What is a subtenant’s responsibiity regarding utilities?

UPDATED: Sep 17, 2012

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What is a subtenant’s responsibiity regarding utilities?

In May I subleased a room for 2 months. The landlord informed me that the roommates would let me know when utilities were due. I paid the utilities for May however a week into June I was disqualified from my school and moved back home. However, because I had a written agreement, I paid the rent despite not living there. I then lived there for 2 weeks in July and moved out. During that time I lived there these roommates never asked me for utilities. Now the landlord claims I cannot get my $450 deposit back because I did not pay utilities and because there is damage to the comforter. The comforter already had tears in it however he claims they were not there and that I owe him money. I claim the utilities dispute is between the roommates and I and that the comforter is not worth $450. Do I have a case against him?

Asked on September 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you sub-leased the rental from a tenant, the landlord (owner of the rental) has no say as to what your arrangements were with the tenant (your landlord) unless the written states so.

If your sub-lease says nothing about utilties to be paid, then you are under no obligation to do so. I suggest that you read your sub-lease carefully in that it sets forth the terms and conditions of your obligations to the sub-landlord and vice versa.

If you paid the $450 as a security deposit to the owner of the property then you are entitled to receive it back immediately because he or she is not your landlord under the sublease.

I would write the property owner a demand letter stating the need for payment of your $450 by a stated date. Keep a copy of the letter for future use and need. If the due date comes and goes for the return of your $450, your recourse if you want its return is small claims court.


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