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MD landlord tenant laws, tenant rights for paying utility bills, landlord responsibilities

Chesapeake Beach, MD |

I had an electric bill that spiked up several hundred dollars in one month. It turns out that the cause was that the A/C unit was failing and finally stopped working. The repairman said the part in the A/C that failed would have been the cause of the spike. Once the part was replaced, my bill went back to normal.

I rent my home and am wanting the owner to take some responsibility for helping to pay the bill. I offered to pay $200 of the bill, which is about $100 more than what it normally is, and I want the owner to pay the rest or deduct from our rent. The management company is not willing to assist nor is the owner.

The A/C company was not chosen by us, nor was the type of A/C installed. Even though it was only a few weeks old, the A/C company was also not willing to offer any compensation and said there was no warranty.

We take good care of the home and have never been late on any rent payments. We have had to have many items in the home fixed due to the management company not fixing items after the previous tenants were evicted.

Am I right to demand the owner compensate us by paying part of the bill or reducing rent?

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Attorney answers 1


I do not know all of the facts, but generally, your lease terms will supply some type of guidance as to if there are consequential damages (an increased electric bill because of your A/C problem) allowed. It is a toss up in a court case whether or not the judge finds that the Landlord was at fault for the increased bill and award you a judgment for that cost. If there are more facts that suggest the Landlord was not responsive in making the repair your chances for recovery are better.
you should completely review Real Property Article 8-211 to determine if the Landlord somehow breached their duty to provide appropriate repairs of the defect(s). If you get your claim amounts high enough you can go to District Court against your landlord and request money damages. For only $100-200 it may not be worth the hassle; but if you have more claims or issues and you have properly notified your landlord/manager of, an they have been unresponsive, you have the right to withhold rent and pay that rent into a rent escrow at the District Court clerk's office pending resolution of the dispute. Let the statute be your guide and make sure that you completely document all communications of broken item and issues with the landlord, that way you will be ready if you have to go to court.

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