Rentals in 91711>Question Details

Bishoplauren…, Renter in Claremont, CA

Do we have to pay the utilities?

Asked by Bishoplauren89, Claremont, CA Mon Oct 31, 2011

My husband and I just moved into a house that is managed by a property management company. We live in the downstairs of the house and today the management company rented out the top apartment. When we signed our rental agreement we were told that we would pay all utilities and that if they ever rented out the top apartment that those tenants would pay their own utilities. But today we found out that the water and the gas aren't separated. So do we still have to pay those two bills?

Also, over the weekend our trash cans were confiscated by the city due to non-payment. I am unable to put that bill in my name because i am not the Home Owner. We made an agreement with the Management company that they would pay all bills and we would reimburse them. So far I've had to hound them to get copies of the bills so that we could pay them back. We've gotten a notice from the gas company that they were going to shut down our service due to non-payment.

Are we responsible for the upstairs tenants?

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Linda Mayer’s answer
When you say "we were told that we would pay all utilities and that if they ever rented out the top apartment that those tenants would pay their own utilities." did you get that in writing or is that a verbal promise? Either way, I would go back to your management company and get it in writing and resolved. Since the utilities are not split they either need to split them and/or put them in their name. Split would be the best solution for you as how do you split something when one unit may be using 3X's more electricity than the other.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri May 11, 2012
Hi Bishoplauren89,

It's imperative that you read the lease very carefully, with special attention to the paragraph regarding utilities.

If you signed the lease, you are bound by the provisions of the lease, no matter what was told to you verbally.
Hoping that your lease is explicit and clarifies who is responsible for what.

When you say that they are not separated, do you mean that all shows up on a single bill ? Or that there is actually only one meter for each ?

Are there individual sub-meters for the utilities? If so, it's extremely easy to determine which unit used how much of each utility. If the units are not sub-metered, it means that you only have one gas meter, one water meter, etc. for the entire building. That will be impossible to determine which unit used how much water, gas, etc.

Re your requests to the property management firm, keep a timeline of all conversations, persons involved, etc.

Keep detailed records, and put everything in writing.

Here's a link that you might want to look at:

Here's also the contact details for San Bernardino County
Inland Fair Housing and Mediation Board
560 North Arrowhead Avenue, Suite 7A
San Bernardino, CA 92401
(909) 888-3763 (800) 321-0911

Good luck.

Colleen Coleman
(909) 972 1616
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 4, 2013
You are not responsible for the upstairs tenants utilities and the landlord should sort out the garage can issue. If the duplex does not have separate meters it is the landlord who must pay the utilities. In this situation where there are not separate meters, usually landlords build the utilities into to the rent because there is no way to split them out fairly with no meter. Also, many times units without separate meters are non-permitted units.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 2, 2011
No you do not. It should be in writing in your current lease or rental agreement. If it is not then come to an understanding with your landlord and have it in writing. Since there is only one meter be prepared to pay a certain percentage, knowing that it is not an accurate measurement of your usage. Also have the utilities in your name, or mailed to you directly so that you can be in control as to whether or not you have hot water and electricity, etc.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 2, 2011

Here is a link to the landlord/tenant laws for California - your first issue is addressed on pages 17 and 22 with possible outcomes on page 22. The following is on page 22:

if the utility meter for your rental unit is shared with another unit or another part of the building (see page 17), then the landlord must reach an agreement with you on who will pay for the shared utilities. this agreement must be in writing (it can be part of the rental agreement or lease), and can consist of one of the following

1. the landlord can pay for the utilities provide through the meter for your rental unit by placing the utilities in the landlord’s name;

2. the landlord can have the utilities in the area outside your rental unit put on a separate meter in the landlord’s name; or

3. You can agree to pay for the utilities provided through the meter for your rental unit to areas outside your rental unit. (as referenced in Civil Code Section 1940.9. This section also provides remedies for violations)

It is also the landlord's responsibility to have trash receptacles available and in good repair. Probably see if you can pay your half of the trash and utilities with CHECKS directly made out to those companies. Maybe that will help - GOOD LUCK - a bad landlord or management company is never fun to deal with.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 31, 2011
Normally, the term of who pays what is written in rental agreement. If utility is not separately metered, it should be determined by landlord what percentage of cost you should bear. It is not all your responsibility. Talk to your landlord and revise rental agreement is the way to go.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Oct 31, 2011
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