Can I be made responsible for my roommate’s utility debt from a past residence in which I did not even live?

UPDATED: Sep 25, 2011

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Can I be made responsible for my roommate’s utility debt from a past residence in which I did not even live?

About 4 years ago my current roommate’s then landlord convinced him to put the energy bill for the whole house (2 apartments) in his name. My roommate did not knowthe house carried a balance of over $1600 from former tenants not paying, and he was now on the hook for it. He was advised by someone that he trusted to not pay it and it would go away. He has lived with me for 2 years now and the energy bills are in my name. I just got a letter from a law firm, with only my name on it, saying that I owe his balance from that house that I never lived in. Is this a scare tactic or could this really effect me?

Asked on September 25, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Michigan


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If you never authorized your name to be placed on the utility bills for the home that you are living in and you are receiving letters from a law firm for past due amounts for a period of time that you have never lived in the rental, you would not be obligated fo the amount claimed as a general rule.

To be on the safe side regarding this opinion, you need to carefully read your written lease for the rental (assuming you have one) 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.

I suggest that you write a letter back to the law firm seeking moneys with a copy of your written lease explaining your position keeping a copy of the letter for future reference. Send a copy of this letter to the landlord as well. Good luck.


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