One listener asked a question, and the answer surprised me. I’m Amy E. Feldman.
Listener Howard W. asked a question that seemed simple: he recently found out he’s been paying for all the utilities in the duplex he rents instead of just those for his own unit and wants to know if he can sue. Well, almost all landlord tenant rights are based on the lease the tenant signs before moving in, so the simple answer seemed to be: check your lease to see what you’ve agreed to be responsible for. But that might not be the whole answer.
In some states, like Pennsylvania where Howard lives, the utility code says landlords must ensure each residential unit is individually metered. That means the tenant’s wiring can’t include the common areas or another apartment so the tenant would have the right to dispute the accuracy of the bill. Now, not every state has that protection, so check with your state’s utility commission—and check your lease. In any event, before you ever sue, try discussing it with your landlord, who might be reasonable.