Question

My typed rental lease has a hand-written clause?

...that states that I am to pay the utilities of electricity and water. I have recently been handed bills for electricity water AND sewage. The sewage bill is more than three times the amount of the water bill...i.e. water is $50 and sewage is $150.+ Something smells fishy. (No pun intended...)
Am I liable to pay the sewage portion since it's not even mentioned on my lease?

Serious answers preferred, (unless you have a *really* funny reply.)

4 years ago - 8 answers

Best Answer

Chosen by Asker

That seems very strange. It all depends where you live.

My water bill here in Orange County, California, includes sewage. And the sewage bill is only a small fraction of the water bill.

First, I would inquire with the local authorities as to why your sewage bill is so high. I would also refuse to pay it, since it was not in the lease you signed.

4 years ago

Other Answers

Next time you ask include more information.

by KMcG - 4 years ago

Is the sewer bill a separate bill? If so, you might have a case. If it is billed along with the water (which is common) I'm afraid you will have to pay it.

Hand-written clauses govern over typewritten as long as they were part of the original agreement and not added by one party after the other has signed.

by Sharon T - 4 years ago

If you have a copy of your lease that does not have that clause and was signed by the landlord, the clause in unenforceable. A hand-written change to any agreement should be initialed by both parties to be valid. If your initials are not on there, it is probably still unenforceable, but unless you have your copy, it may be a harder fight.

Sewer is normally considered part of "utilities", so if utilities are not specifically defined, sewer would be included. And sewer is usually way more than water.

by John Doe - 4 years ago

If you agreed to pay the bills then there is nothing fishy. The sewer bill is always greater then the water bill. It is always water and sewer since majority of utility companies cover both.

by Tigg - 4 years ago

If your lease specifically states electricity and water only, then this is what you are responsible for.

As long as both parties have agreed to the same lease and neither side has amended it without the written consent (signature) of the other, then it is legal and enforceable. You could write it on a napkin and it would be legally binding as long as both parties have agreed to it.

Show your landlord the part of the lease explaining what you are responsible for and advise him that you are not paying what you did not agree to.

by cowgrl - 4 years ago

I think I need clarification:

Unless you signed the lease prior to the hand-written part being added, then you are probably liable . If the addition was made after you signed it, then you should have been required to initial the change(and it should have been added to your copy or should have been given a new copy. At any rate, if there is a discrepancy consult your copy, as that should be the binding one. But I'm not sure if that is what you mean.

Are the bills original ones from the utilities company? Or did your landlord draw them up for what he/she determined is your share of the utilities? If yes to the former question, then they should be entirely in your name, and there will be no confusion. If yes to the latter question, I would think you would be entitled to see the original and have a clear understanding of what your share of the total is. Negotiate. How many people are in the other suite/s, it should be based on # of people and not just split in half if there are 3 people in the landlord's suite and you live alone. Do you know what I mean?

Without the original bills as proof, I would think they would not have a case against you, but I'm sure I don't need to caution you that a landlord can make life difficult for a tenant.

Are you in an apartment? A basement suite? Have a bedroom in a shared house arrangement? That would all make a difference and should be considered in the percentage that you are responsible for.

If you have a dispute, check with your Landlord Tenant Act or see if there is a supporting agency. They can favor the landlord or the tenant, depending on how socialistic your area is. Mine unfortunately favored the landlord, but in other Provinces (lucky them) they favored the tenant.

Source(s)

by adelems - 4 years ago

handwritten items are legal on typed leases or contracts. HOWEVER, it can't just be written in without you agreeing to it. Did you sign/initial this written part. If yes, then you are responsible. If not, you can argue that it was done after you sign the actual lease and you are not responsible.

In regards to the amounts. usually the water and the sewer is the same amount. I would find out why it's different and what it covers.

by real estate guy - 4 years ago