Is it legal to force a tenant to pay a bill that was in a former roomate’s name after a brand new lease is signed?

UPDATED: Sep 9, 2010

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Is it legal to force a tenant to pay a bill that was in a former roomate’s name after a brand new lease is signed?

Roommate moved out, he never paid the water bill which was in his name. I did pay him and have a few receipts. Now after signing a new lease the apartment is pinning this on me. My name was on a previous lease with him but not on the bill.

Asked on September 9, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Mississippi


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Someone needs to help you with the terms of the prior lease and to read what in fact you agreed to in there.  I am assuming that the lease required that you pay for water as a separate charge and directly to the utility or was it to the landlord on an apportionment basis?  It is unclear here.  Did you have your own separate meter?  In reality, if you had vacated and someone else had taken over the apartment as a rental and thus the water bill, the landlord could not have gone after them for your old charges.  He would have had to go after your roommate for sure and possibly you again, depending on how the lease reads.  You can go against your ex-roommate for his portion as well. But have someone help you with this one.  Good luck.

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