If my lease states that landlord is to pay water and wants me to pay half or he will evict me, can he do that?

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If my lease states that landlord is to pay water and wants me to pay half or he will evict me, can he do that?

The landlord came to me and said the water bill is to high and wants me to pay half. However, it says in the lease that he pays the entire bill, so I reused to pay and he says that he will take me to court over that. Is this legal?

Asked on March 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A lease is a contract: both parties are bound by its terms, and neither party may, of its own accord, impose additional restrictions or costs on the other party, without the other party's consent. So if under your lease the landlord pays for water and there is no cap or ceiling on your usage, it would seem he has no basis for legal action. (Barring unusual circumstances--e.g. if he can show you are actually running a hose from your window to provide water to some other residence, that could be held to be against the intention of the parties when you agreed to the lease, and thus a breach of your obligations.)

In the future, such as when this lease is expiring, he may wish to only have leases that require the tenants to pay for water, or cap their usage--if he does that, it will then be a different story.


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