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

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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

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.


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