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We signed a lease, it says all the utilities are included (a yr long lease) now the owner wants to change it? Can he?

Tacoma, WA |

He wrote up the lease, it says all utilities are included in the monthly payment. The lease is for a full year. Now he says he's changed his mind and wants me to sign this other lease for a year with no utilities. Can he legally do that?

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

Did you and the landlord talk about who is to pay for utilities?

For example, if there was a discussion with the agreement that you the tenant would be paying for all utilities but when the landlord was writing up the agreement he forgot to write out the agreement correctly, most judges likely will find that you are responsible for the utilities.

On another hand, if the agreement before it was signed was that the landlord is going to pay the utilities, the landlord likely cannot change the agreement now.

Even if the agreement is that the landlord would pay the utilities, there likely is a provision in the agreement that the tenant is responsible for paying excess usage. For example, a tenant cannot expect to heat the house to 100 degrees in the winter and expect the landlord to foot the heating bill.

You likely will need to review the specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.

Asker

Posted

The lease states"included in the monthly rent payment the following is included; power, wsg, gas, basic cable tenant is responsible for internet or additional utilities should they choose"

Saphronia R Young

Saphronia R Young

Posted

Mr. Nguyen gave a thoughtful response. It sounds as though you are replying that there was no understanding prior to signing the lease concerning the tenant paying utilities. So, I agree with Mr. Nguyen that if such is the case, the landlord cannot unilaterally change the agreement now. Also, if the lease contains a provision that all prior understandings are "merged" into the written document, a court may enforce that provision anyway. Your discussion would be wiped out by the written document if that provision is there, absent other factors you have not mentioned.

Posted

Normally no, but extenuating circumstances might dictate otherwise. You should discuss this with a local attorney.

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