Can new ownership charge me for utilities after the fact?

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Can new ownership charge me for utilities after the fact?

When I moved in to my apartment over 1 1/2 years ago I was never charged for utilities. I was told that it was a part of our rent which was fixed. Recently our building was sold and there are new owners who sent me a bill for the last 12 months of utilities, although I’ve lived here for 18 months in total. My lease does say that the tenant is responsible for all utilities. What can I do? Do I have to pay this? If so, then why wouldn’t they have charged me for the first 6 months I lived here?

Asked on January 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Arkansas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In order to answer your question concerning utility charges for your unit, you need to carely re-read your presumed written lease in that its terms and conditions control the obligations owed to you by the landlord and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law.

If the written lease does not state that you are obligated for the utilities at the rental that you have, then due to any mention of it the landlord is responsible for such fees. If your former landlord never charged you for utility fees, then I have a hard time for the new owner to charge you for such fees when he or she never owned the property.

From what you have written, you owe no utility fees on a retroactive basis. If the new landlord pushes you on this issue, you might want to consult with a landlord tenant attorney.


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