Is a homeowner responsible for a tenant’s/guest’s unpaid utility bills?

UPDATED: Apr 20, 2011

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Is a homeowner responsible for a tenant’s/guest’s unpaid utility bills?

I let my son and a friend live in my house for about 6 months. They were to pay utilities and all utilities were transferred to her name. She defaulted on the sanitation bill and now the city is trheatening me with a lien on my property unless I pay her bill. The sanitation department told me IN law says that if I own the house, I owe the bill even if it’s in someone else’s name. Is that correct? I will never get the money from this gal even if I sue.

Asked on April 20, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Well, yes that can occur, it may not be like a utility bill like a light bill. It is a public service but the service is not specifically limited to just your property. You should consider contacting the Indiana Attorney General, find out if this is correct, and either force your son to pay the bill or pay the bill and sue both your son and the friend for reimbursement. At the end of the day, you own your home and since the sanitation service benefited your property (health concerns), you would be obtain an undue benefit if you did not pay it. Your only option would indeed be to pay, then seek the contribution from your tenants and hope she has a bank account or wages from which you may freeze or garnish, respectively. You will usually have up to 10 years to collect on a judgment.

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 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.

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