Skip to main content

Roommate refusing to pay utilities. Do I have a case to take her to small claims? Total $250 unpaid.

Oak Park, IL |

I moved out at the end of a lease that I shared with two other roommates. I handled the utilities. When I moved out, one roommate had not paid for 3 months worth of bills. 2 months later, she wrote saying she won't pay, citing: (a) she was out of town for 1 month so she did not use any utilities (not mentioned before the trip) (b) 2 visits from my family that she did not want (not brought to my attention during their visits), and (c) a gas disconnection for 2 weeks (happened because both roommates had not paid me, so I didn't have funds to pay the full amount, which I told both roommates 1 month before the disconnection.) Can I take her to small claims over this or is there some other recourse? I have all communications in writing, but no written agreement re: utility paying.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 2

Best Answer

The filing fee alone for a claim not exceeding $250 in Cook County is $119.00. Is the time and effort of trying to collect $250 really that worth it? You will need to prepare a complaint, file it, make sure it is properly served and then appear in court and prove your case. And just because you get a judgment doesn't mean you will automatically get paid.

Do you really need the money or is it just the principal. You should consider it a lesson in roommate relations and move on.


Oral contracts and contracts "implied in fact" by the parties conduct are as enforceable as written contracts, although they're somewhat harder to prove. Here, with your other roommate's testimony, the utility bills, and your own testimony, that's not really the problem. Your roommate's excuses aren't defenses to her agreement to pay her share of the costs.

But this is a cost-benefit analysis, and the benefit is quite small, and the cost is quite high.
If the filing fee is really that much for a Small Claims court, then I agree that this may not be worth the effort. I would think that you'd be able to add that fiing fee to your claim, but you'll still have to front that cost, plus spend your time pursuing this, plus spend more effort, if she doesn't pay up voluntarily, collecting the judgment by garnishing her wages, levying her bank account, etc.

Another option is to post what a deadbeat she is on your Facebook page. Tell the truth, and stick to the facts of the situation and your opinions of her conduct, and you'll avoid defamation exposure.

Avvo doesn't pay us for these responses, and I'm not your lawyer just because I answer this question or respond to any follow-up comments. If you want to hire me, please contact me. Otherwise, please don't expect a further response. We need an actual written agreement to form an attorney-client relationship. I'm only licensed in CA and you shouldn't rely on this answer, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it's impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer