Milwaukee, WI asked in Contracts, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Wisconsin

Q: can my landlord force me to pay for sewer when only water was noted on the lease?

After living in this house for two years and finally moving, my landlord kept most of my security deposit for not paying the sewer bill that we never received nor knew we were supposed to be responsible for. It was not on our lease however we did agree to pay for water every three months. Are we really responsible to pay it even though it’s not on our lease?

1 Lawyer Answer

Jason Anthony Greller

Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Madison, WI
  • Licensed in Wisconsin

A: There are a couple of issues here. Responsibility for utilities needs to be spelled out in the lease. Depending on the locality, it may be common to refer to water and sewer as parts of the same whole - particularly if they are billed together on the same invoice by the municipality. If this is the case, a court might overlook the absence of a specific mention of sewer. If the lease is a form lease and water is marked but sewer is not marked, then you may have a good argument that you should not be charged. If a court holds that you a not responsible for the sewer bill under the lease, then the deduction from your security deposit would be subject to damages including the award of attorney fees. In short, you really need to have an attorney take a close look at the lease to determine if it is reasonable for the landlord to bill you for the sewer charges.

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