The water/sewer bill comes to my landlord quarterly. According to my lease, the landlord pays the bills, photocopies it and is supposed to provide me with the copy so I can pay it. My landlord has not given me a water bill since December. I am moving out of my rental at the end of the month. The landlord informed me, today that he will be deducting the unpaid water/sewer bills from my security deposit after I vacate. If I am expected to pay the bill in a timely manner, shouldn't the landlord have to provide me with the bills in a timely fashion, as well.
According to everything I have read, the landlord cannot hold the deposit for any reason other than property damages. Is there a law that says he has to forward me the water/sewer bill within a certain amount of time and that he cannot hit me with them all at once or take them from my deposits?
1 Answer from Attorneys
The landlord has breached the lease. You can't pay the utility bill unless you know how much it is for. Has he told you yet? You are correct that he cannot withhold this money from your security deposit, and if he does, you can sue him in small claims court for the money, and if the judge finds that the security deposit was improperly withheld, you are entitled to double damages. Of course, he will in turn sue you for the unpaid utility charges, but you would still make out if he has to pay you twice the security deposit. After all, you didn't fail to pay the utilities--you didn't know how much to pay. While there is no law that requires the landlord to send you utility bills in a timely manner, the Lease provisions require it. I would let the situation play out. He has 30 days after you leave to pay you your security deposit. See what happens. Depending on the amounts involved, it may pay you to retain a lawyer to pursue the landlord if he does withhold the utility costs from the security deposit.