Can a landlord raise rent due to rising utility costs if there is a lease?

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Can a landlord raise rent due to rising utility costs if there is a lease?

My husband and I signed a lease under pressure from our landlord. The landlord talked of the rising costs, and how she wanted to save us money by keeping us at the current rate. After signing (a month later) we get a notice stating the rent will be raised $30 due to utilities. Upon examination of the lease, it states that the tenant will pay water/sewer and electric (though currently we do not pay w/s) and then an astrik adds “Utility billing formula is subject to change with 30 day notice”. I mulled over the rest, and nothing states they can do this, yet the landlord assures me it’s quite legal.

Asked on March 27, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lease agreement is a contract.  When parties execute a contract (here by signing the lease) it is assumed by the courts that they ahve read it and agreed to the terms.  You here did not read it.  That is a problem.  Setting it aside can be difficult.  Now, if you pay electric the bill should be in YOUR name.  That is highly suspect here.  If there is not a separate meter for your electric then it is an issue.  Same with water and sewer.  Take the lease to some one to read and explain the facts as they relate to the tenancy.  Good luck.


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