My son rented a house that has a guest house in the backyard in Tucson, Arizona. He signed a 6 month lease Feb. 5/01 with his two other friends. At the time he rented this house he specifically inquired if the utilities between the main house and the small guest house in the back yard were separate. The landlord insisted they were.
After living there a while they discovered they were paying for the tenant in the back house's utilities, gas and electric because there indeed were no separate meters. My son and his two roommates who are also on the lease, want out of this lease two months early because of that. We, his
parents and our son had a meeting with the landlord last night to discuss his renting to our son and his friends under false pretenses. The landlord wanted to compensate them by dividing the utilities into 4. (Three kids live in the main house and a stranger lives in the back house). We feel that is not fair as the house in the back yard
has air conditioning and the main house has a swamp cooler that uses far less electricity. The tenant in the back house says he cranks the
air conditioner on at all times as he doesn't have to pay for it. At the meeting the landlord says he will not let them out of the lease early unless he rents it. It is not a great time to rent here and there are only two more
months left of the six month lease. My son's
landlord threatened to evict them if they do break the lease. Our son and his roomates withheld paying the rent this month (May) because they have a half a month's rent in refundable deposit and will pay the remaineder of this months rent before the day they plan on moving out, June 5th, two months early because of the lies of the landlord. They perceive this as their final payment. Their lease ends August5th.
Is it legal grounds for our son and his roommates to break the lease because of false pretenses when they rented? The rented agent insisted the utilities were separate
and now wants to go back and divide all the payments. We feel that is very unfair and just want to terminate the lease at the month end.
What is our legal recourse?
When the landlord left last night angry he threatened eviction. Do we need to get an attorney?
What would be your suggestion as to how to handle this problem?
OK...yes, landlord should have disclosed and had clear understanding on utilities. Son/friends, however, should sue landlord AND back tenant in Small Claims Court for what they feel is appropriate reimbursement for utilities they have paid and NOT mix up with the breaking of the lease. If/when they leave, landlord can then sue THEM in SCC and they can counter sue. The problem is that the boy's may well have a judgement against them if they move from the area AFTER service of the court case. They need to have utility companies verify that back house is on their meter AND keep in touch with back tenant.
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