How do we go about dealing with a highg utility bill that was our landlord’s fault?

UPDATED: Sep 12, 2011

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How do we go about dealing with a highg utility bill that was our landlord’s fault?

In July, the AC in my apartment stopped working. My landlord came over and said the issue was fixed until we got the electric bill last month. The bill was much higher than normal -$675. He checked the HVAC system again andfound another issue that he admittedly did not check previously. The problem was fixed but now we are stuck with a high bill. We asked the landlord if he would consider taking $425 off our rent next because the excess in the bill was due to the failure to fix the HVAC system right in the first place. He refused and said either he would take $100 off the rent or we would need to be out by the end of this month.

Asked on September 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Virginia


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to carefully read your written lease (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. Potentially there will be a provision in the lease referencing the landlord's obligation to make repairs on the unit in a timely and proper manner.

If so, you could make the argument that due to the landlord's failure to do so, your electrical bill was needlessly increased and as a result he or she should be responsible for the increase, not you.

If he refuses to pay the increase, a small claims action might be warranted. If the landlord tries to evict you as a result of the small claims court filing, you can claim he is retaliating against you as a defense to any eviction action.

Good luck.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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