Can I sue my roommate in small claims court for unpaid utility bills?
2 attorney answers
A lease is a contract between a landlord and his tenants. So, even though the lease states that the tenants shall pay, that only creates a contract between the landlord and tenants - it does not create a contract between the tenants themselves. However, there is probably some kind of quasi or implied contract between the tenants that each will be responsible for half of the utilities. As the other answer indicates, you will most likely not be able to recover all 6 months, but may be able to recover the month that she lived there, even if it was only a partial month.
If you want to sue in small claims court, the limit is $10,000. The cost of the utility bills is probably way under that, but the thing to keep in mind is that you will be spending money for the lawsuit (which may only be the filing fee), plus the time preparing for the trial. Is it worth it? Of course that answer may depend on how much the roommate owes you.
You may have a contract claim against your roommate. A small claims judge may "split the baby" by giving you some of what you want but not everything on the grounds that the roommate is not there to use the utilities and because you are now the only user of the utilities the roommate would end up paying less. Your roommate seems to have been irresponsible with you; I wonder if getting a judgment against him/her is worth the time and effort it might take to collect from her.
Please note the information provided does not constitute legal advice and no attorney/client relationship is created by any questions or answers or legal guides posted on Avvo.com. Never make any important legal decisions without consulting an attorney.