If I am responsible for my water bill, am I also responsible for other charges that appear on the bill?

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If I am responsible for my water bill, am I also responsible for other charges that appear on the bill?

I rent a house in which the lease states that I am responsible for the water bill. The landlord sends me a copy of a bill from the city and indicates that I owe the total that appears at the bottom. The charges listed on this bill are as follows – landfill user fee, recycling fee, public fire protection, sewer, stormwater, and water. Am I responsible for the total of that bill or only the water portion of it?

Asked on November 27, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you are responsible for solely the water bill for the unit you are renting or are responsible for all designated charges on the utility bill that you have received from your landlord depends upon what the terms of the presumed written lease you signed states.

The written lease controls the obligations owed to you by the landlord to you and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law. You need to carefully read your written lease as to the specific charges you are responsible for on the water bill. If the charges are unclear and if the landlord drafted the lease, then any ambiguities in the agreement would be construed against the landlord and in your favor.

From what you have written, there is the possibility that you might be contractually obligated to pay the entirety of the utility bill's charges.


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