Do I owe my tenants for the hot water they’ve paid if the lease states hot water was included in rent even if electricity isn’t?

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Do I owe my tenants for the hot water they’ve paid if the lease states hot water was included in rent even if electricity isn’t?

I am a landlord and my lease had a typo in it stating that hot water was included in rent it was supposed to just say water since the condo fee covers water sewer. However, electricity was not part of the rent and there is an electric water heater installed. Which is right? I am not obligated to pay the electric bill which contains the hot water. My former tenants are inquiring if I owe them for the hot water for the past 2.5 years.

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If the written lease agreement states that the landlord is to pay for the "hot water" for the rental and the agreement is signed by the tenants and you as the landlord, then you are obligated to pay for the hot water regardless if there was an error in the document as to such. I presume you prepared the lease agreement. As such, any ambiguities are to be construed against you.

I suggest that you draw up some document giving the former tenants some "credit" for the hot water that they have been paying for in the past and have it dated and signed by both of you to resolve the issue you are writing about and end this issue.


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