If I do not have a lease, can the landlord demand I pay for bills that have never been previously discussed?

UPDATED: Jul 15, 2011

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If I do not have a lease, can the landlord demand I pay for bills that have never been previously discussed?

I am renting from my aunt and have never had a lease. She now wants to sell the home andhas given us 30 days to get out. She sent a certified letter demanding that I pay for several things when I leave that we never agreed upon, such as the filling of an LP gas tank. We agreed not to let the tank go empty while we were living there, but never agreed to fill it for her or the next people/owners when we left. I do not mind paying for what I agreed to pay, but am I under any obligation to pay for her new demands? If taken to court, should I document things that she said she’d fix and didn’t?

Asked on July 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) You only have to pay either a) those things you agreed to pay or b) for anything you break.

2) If you agreed to "not let the tank go empty," there is at least some ambiguity as to your responsiblity when your tenancy ends--one interpretation (not the only one, but a possible interpretation) is that you had to leave it either full, or as full as it had been when you first started renting. That being the case, if your aunt chose to sue you to get the cost of filling the tank--which is what she'd have to do, if you don't pay voluntarily--it's not a given or definite that you'd win. Since bad feelings in a family can cause trouble, and a lawsuit is never good, you may wish to consider whether it would be best, all things considered, to pay.

3) If you do end up in court, any documentation of your aunt's breaches of her obligations could be helpful--it's not definite they'd be useful (a lot depends on the judge), but it would be worthwhile to bring the documentation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption