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utilities included?

Postby cwpuck » Mon Mar 17, 2003 12:36 pm

i live in nyc and have been subletting a room in my apartment. when i advertised it, i stated that utilities were included.

i calculated utilities by averaging out all of the utilities for a year, dividing by 12, and adding that to exactly a fair share of the monthly rent. We had agreed that it was a long term arrangement, and so it seemed fair, and an unevenness in utilities from month to month would even themselves out over a year.

The sublet is legal, and I have given my landlord all due notices.

In general, my roommate has yelled at me while i was on the phone with my boss, and is very difficult. Since then, I have become more and more reluctant to have anything open to negotiation, because I usually get yelled at. I told her she could leave, if she was unhappy with the terms of the sublet, because she is constantly trying to renegotiate everything--even simple roommate things become like some court case. I as a sublettor do feel like I made the terms clear when she moved in, and exactly wanted to avoid the headache of the back and forth, so I made things as fair and simple from square one as possible.

To be honest, she bounced a check for over $500 in long distance telephone bills to germany, lied about being forced to move back to her parents home, in order to avoid the responsibility of finding a new roommate.

I was trying to be conscientious and mitigate difficulties, but at this point I am fed up, and really just feel like that effort is being taken for granted by a very spoiled brat. I am being as fair as I can be about everything, only to be accused of stealing, pocketing the diff, etc--all of which are not true.

I even laid out all of the documentation to let her tally it herself, which she never read.

Now on top of this, she racked up about $1000 in heating, after i specifically explained to her the hows and why's of the utilities included. (i have maintained that i am responsible for heating up to 74 degrees--which is pretty generous, and she left it on at 80 degrees for days at a time when i wasn't around.)

I called the gas company to get an estimate of the heating bill for the apt, which they were kind enough to calculate to accomodate how cold its been. I deducted the difference (about $600!) from her security deposit. I told her that this is more than fair, given her constant harassment, constant threats of suing, tantrums, and her overall irresponsibility and dodginess.

she is now threatening to sue in small claims court, claiming that if I said utilities were included, it should be completely included. however she is completely irresponsible and disrespectful of these simple common sense agreements, which i find unreasonable. i just finished grad school, and she is finishing her last year of school. we live in a nice apartment, but from my perspective, I am not obligated to run it like the Plaza Hotel or a day spa, which is i think what she expects.

I just want to know how much I am really responsible for someone exploiting an agreement like that.

As well, I want to know if I can countersue for damages to my time and energy. If she dodges roommate resonsibilities, and I have to pick up the slack for finding a new roommate, paying bounced checking fees, and such, can I withhold that from her deposit, or countersue for it? I am dog tired of the harassment, and believe I should be allowed to protect myself in this situation, but not exactly sure how.

Any advice would be so greatly appreciated.

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Re: utilities included?

Postby jot0n0 » Mon Mar 17, 2003 1:27 pm

If you advertised that utilities (gas & electricity) are included with rent, then it's assumed utilities would be unlimited unless a disclaimer is placed in your sublettee's lease, limiting the maximum amount she is covered for. Your utilities calculation is flawed in assuming that everyone will have the same energy consumption as yourself, especially when your roommate assumes no financial reponsibility to paying the bills. You on your own will not be able to resolve all these claims and counterclaims and will need to have this decided in small claims court. Hopefully you have lease and agreements in writing with roommate which will be the decidng factor in determining who's liable and to award damages. Good luck.
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Re: utilities included?

Postby Zamindar » Tue Mar 18, 2003 4:43 pm

Though I sympathize with your prospect, if you advertised it to include utilities, it includes utilities. Even if you included a statement that utilities are not to be wasted in your agreement. Her doing so would give you reason to terminate the agreement, not make an adjustment to the rent. You can only make an adjustment if you both agree to it and that certainly did not seem likely.
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Re: utilities included?

Postby Chimera » Tue Mar 18, 2003 5:35 pm

This is a lost cause. Stay out of court at all costs, you can't sue her for damages, but she can sue you for unfairly deducting from her security deposit. The security is for physical damages to the apartment, or if she breaks a lease and you need to use it to cover lost rent. Try to get her out as soon as possible, and be prepared -- you might have to take her to housing court to get her removed.
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Re: utilities included?

Postby Lilly » Tue Mar 18, 2003 6:03 pm

Utilities does not include any telephone, only electricity and gas. Here is a link to heating rquirements:

I believe this applies to you even though you are not in NYC.

And I agree, get her out asap.
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