• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

Am I responsible for my exes utility bills if I moved out?

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

Status
Not open for further replies.

Lunar007

Junior Member
#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Massachusetts

I broke up with my ex and moved out of our shared apartment in October. I told him I will continue to pay my portion of the rent until the lease is up at the end of March, since my name is on the lease. On the lease, the tenants are responsible for electric and gas. When we were living together, the deal was that I would pay 100% electricity and we would split the gas 50/50. Because I broke up with him and moved out, I told him I would continue to pay as is even though I do not live there.
In December and January, the gas bill went up 3x each month. Instead of paying my usual $50 a month, he told me I was now responsible for $150 for that one month of gas. I told him I would only pay max $50 because he should be responsible for turning the gas up that much.

Both the gas and electric bill is under his name and SSN. I called the utilities company and they said if there is an outstanding balance due, he would be solely responsible for it.

Now he is threatening to take me to small claims court saying that I owe $400 for his utilities. Does he have a case? Am I legally responsible for the utilities even though I do not live there?
 
Last edited:


LdiJ

Senior Member
#2
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Massachusetts

I broke up with my ex and moved out of our shared apartment in October. I told him I will continue to pay my portion of the rent until the lease is up at the end of March, since my name is on the lease. On the lease, the tenants are responsible for electric and gas. When we were living together, the deal was that I would pay 100% electricity and we would split the gas 50/50. Because I broke up with him and moved out, I told him I would continue to pay as is even though I do not live there.
In December and January, the gas bill went up 3x each month. Instead of paying my usual $50 a month, he told me I was now responsible for $150 for that one month of gas. I told him I would only pay max $50 because he should be responsible for turning the gas up that much.

Both the gas and electric bill is under his name and SSN. I called the utilities company and they said if there is an outstanding balance due, he would be solely responsible for it.

Now he is threatening to take me to small claims court saying that I owe $400 for his utilities. Does he have a case? Am I legally responsible for the utilities even though I do not live there?
In my opinion, no, because you were not using the utilities. You are obligated for the rent because you signed the lease, but the utilities, no.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#5
...well, except for that pesky verbal agreement that she made that she would continue to pay "as is".
I wouldn't continue to pay the utilities myself, particularly since it appears that he could be playing games with the amounts. A $300.00 gas bill for an apartment, even in Dec/Jan is way out there.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#6
I wouldn't continue to pay the utilities myself, particularly since it appears that he could be playing games with the amounts. A $300.00 gas bill for an apartment, even in Dec/Jan is way out there.
Do you know the size of the apartment?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#7
I wouldn't continue to pay the utilities myself, particularly since it appears that he could be playing games with the amounts. A $300.00 gas bill for an apartment, even in Dec/Jan is way out there.
It really doesn't matter what you would do...all that matters is what the OP agreed to do. I do agree, however, that the OP shouldn't expect to pay more than the average for what she's been paying.
 

LdiJ

Senior Member
#8
Do you know the size of the apartment?
No, I do not know if the apartment is extra large. If it is, I am sure that the OP will say so now that you have raised that point.
However I do know that an apartment uses less heating utilities than a house does, and even my mom's 2800 sq ft house doesn't use $300.00 worth of gas a winter, so it would have to be a pretty darned big apartment.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#9
No, I do not know if the apartment is extra large. If it is, I am sure that the OP will say so now that you have raised that point.
However I do know that an apartment uses less heating utilities than a house does, and even my mom's 2800 sq ft house doesn't use $300.00 worth of gas a winter, so it would have to be a pretty darned big apartment.
What I have bolded above is problematic.

Heating costs can depend on what the thermostat is set at but also on size of residence, insulation, wind, windows, outside temperatures ... all sorts of factors. A mild winter could result in costs far below what a harsh winter will produce.

I agree with Zigner that what Lunar finds herself responsible for can hinge on the oral agreement between the roommates. Because the utility has the remaining tenant listed as being responsible for the utility costs, however, Lunar might have an advantage in court, should the matter reach a court. The oral agreement would need to be shown.
 
Last edited:

LdiJ

Senior Member
#10
What I have bolded above is problematic.

Heating costs can depend on what the thermostat is set at but also on size of residence, insulation, wind, windows, outside temperatures ... all sorts of factors. A mild winter could result in costs far below what a harsh winter will produce.
Well of course all of that is true, but all things being equal both heating and cooling costs are less for an apartment because there are shared walls, ceilings or floors, or some of the above or all of the above. That is a undisputable fact.

I agree with Zigner that what Lunar finds herself responsible for can hinge on the oral agreement between the roommates. Because the utility has the remaining tenant listed as being responsible for the utility costs, however, Lunar might have an advantage in court, should the matter reach a court. The oral agreement would need to be shown.
Exactly. There is no agreement that any oral contract could be proven OR that the amount of the utilities would equal what the ex roommate is claiming if a contract could be proven. Therefore Zigs opinion that the OP absolutely owes the money is faulty.
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#11
Exactly. There is no agreement that any oral contract could be proven OR that the amount of the utilities would equal what the ex roommate is claiming if a contract could be proven. Therefore Zigs opinion that the OP absolutely owes the money is faulty.
Wait, are you suggesting that the OP should perjure herself in court by disavowing knowledge of the oral contract/agreement? :eek:



The OP has an oral agreement to continue to pay "as is" (OP's words, not mine). As I mentioned above, it's not unreasonable to suggest that this would mean the OP should pay half of the average gas bill for the time she was there. It IS unreasonable to suggest that the OP shouldn't pay anything.

...than again, if we were to tell folks that lying in court is acceptable, then pretty much anything goes, right?
 

Zigner

Senior Member, Non-Attorney
#14
Doubt it will matter. OP wasn't living there and did not use electric
/gas/water/...
The OP agreed to continue paying half those bills. There's really no question that the OP may be found to be responsible for some amount...now the court will just need to figure out what that amount is.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#15
Hi! the apartment is about 900 sqft.
Thanks.

Is there any written evidence of, or witnesses to, your oral agreement to continue paying 100% electric and 50% gas costs?

The oral agreement is where you can run into problems - although I believe you still would have an advantage going into court over utilities that are not in your name and whose costs are substantially above prior usage.
 
Last edited:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Sponsored Ad

Top