illegal lease clause?
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illegal lease clause? (by Scott [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 11:50 AM
       illegal lease clause? (by Moshe [CA]) Nov 30, 2017 12:00 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Barb [MO]) Nov 30, 2017 12:11 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by S i d [MO]) Nov 30, 2017 12:16 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by plenty [MO]) Nov 30, 2017 12:19 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Ken [NY]) Nov 30, 2017 1:15 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by WMH [NC]) Nov 30, 2017 1:55 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by CJ [MO]) Nov 30, 2017 2:37 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Scott [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 2:43 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Vee [OH]) Nov 30, 2017 3:01 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by NC INVESTOR [NC]) Nov 30, 2017 3:22 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by moby [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 9:07 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by moby [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 9:11 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 10:44 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Nov 30, 2017 10:49 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Robert J [CA]) Dec 1, 2017 12:18 AM
       illegal lease clause? (by WMH [NC]) Dec 1, 2017 5:34 AM
       illegal lease clause? (by Kyle [IN]) Dec 1, 2017 6:22 AM
       illegal lease clause? (by cjl [NY]) Dec 1, 2017 8:53 AM
       illegal lease clause? (by CGB [MI]) Dec 1, 2017 4:13 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Kurt [MI]) Dec 1, 2017 5:01 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Tom [FL]) Dec 1, 2017 5:39 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Deanna [TX]) Dec 1, 2017 7:51 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by don [PA]) Dec 4, 2017 3:00 PM
       illegal lease clause? (by Ray-N-Pa [PA]) Dec 4, 2017 4:26 PM

illegal lease clause? (by Scott [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 11:50 AM

My city requires that LLs put water service in LL's name. They still send the bill to the tenant if requested, but LL is responsible if tenant doesn't pay. My lease states in bold type " It is tenant's responsibility to timely pay this bill. Failure to do so is a breach of this lease. "

I started the eviction process on a tenant who was 11 days late with rent and over a month behind with water. She was scheduled for service disconnection. She paid rent and late fees the same day she received her court summons. At the hearing, I told the judge that I was proceeding with the eviction based on tenant's violation of the lease by her failure to pay the water bill. The judge said "you can't do that." When I asked why, he said "go talk to a lawyer." I fought back the impulse to ask "aren't you a lawyer?"

It looks like I can't force tenants to pay their water bill by threat of eviction. Any feedback would be appreciated.

illegal lease clause? (by Moshe [CA]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 12:00 PM

Just because you wrote into your lease that tenant's failure to pay the water bill is a breach of the lease, doesn't make it a breach of the lease. Centuries of legal tradition determine what is a breach of a contract, material or otherwise, and your opinion doesn't count for much.

The judge told you to go talk to a lawyer. That is what you should do, and TO PAY HIM. Your recourse may be none other than going to small claims court and then trying to collect.

illegal lease clause? (by Barb [MO]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 12:11 PM

You may need to start adding a water allowance to the rent, with a statement that water over that amount will be added to the next rent cycle. That way, you take care of it. --131.151.xx.xx

illegal lease clause? (by S i d [MO]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 12:16 PM

Am I the only one who thinks it's a bad idea to get smart with a judge?

I agree that what they do can be frustrating at times...been there, experienced that! But asking a judge "aren't you a lawyer?" ....hmmm... wouldn't want to have to go in front of him again and expect any sympathy.

Talk to the lawyer. He/she may have some helpful advice on what you can do. In the end, as Captain Jack Sparrow said, "There are two important things in this world: what a man can do, and what a man can't do." You just need to know what your options are. I imagine there is a (legal) way to solve this.

illegal lease clause? (by plenty [MO]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 12:19 PM

But the tenant agree to the term when they signed the lease. Go talk to an Attorney... Inquiring minds want to know. "Judge she agree to this arrangement when she signed the lease. Paragraph XX, initials and signature"

illegal lease clause? (by Ken [NY]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 1:15 PM

I just won an eviction Tuesday where I added the unpaid water bill,the judge questioned me about it and gave me amount I asked for.Generally I let the water dept turn off the tenants water if they don't pay the bill.

illegal lease clause? (by WMH [NC]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 1:55 PM

I cannot evict for non-payment of utilities in NC. Even if they agree to pay them in the lease. It's a risk - a tenant could pay me every dime of rent on time and never pay for the agreed-upon water or sewer or what have you, and I can't EVICT for that reason, period. I also can't apply first money received to unpaid utilities - if it is paid as rent, it has to be applied to rent. Etc.

That's just the way it is.

One thing I have done is this: I send the water and/or bill to tenant and they pay the utility directly. If they don't, it is not ME disconnecting the power or water, it is the utility. Yes it is in my name, but they are the ones without power or water.

So far, no one has attempted to live in our spaces without power or water while still paying the rent and living like a human.

Pretty sure I could find another reason to evict if anyone tried this, but you never know...

illegal lease clause? (by CJ [MO]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 2:37 PM

The sewer bill is like that here. We have one rental, the landlord has to have trash account too and they does not allow us to disconnected even the place is vacant, that is $20 a month. We have auto payment, Next time, i will just stop the payment.

illegal lease clause? (by Scott [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 2:43 PM


This is a recently enacted local ordinance, so I am still learning how to deal with it. In the future, I think I will do as you suggested. No water to flush the toilet will produce an ongoing health hazard. Definite lease violation and grounds for eviction. No trash pick-up? Same thing.

illegal lease clause? (by Vee [OH]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 3:01 PM

If this is a recent change then there is prolly some discussion at landlord meetings how to make this work -properly- and you just found out why you need to be fully aware of your up to date state and local tenant rules, here in the lease it must be in a clause by itself where the manager will make copy of each bill and request tenant pay in next rent cycle because OH is a 30 day state, for this reason I have enacted a double rent value security/damage deposit, I encourage you to do this to protect from these things getting out of control.

illegal lease clause? (by NC INVESTOR [NC]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 3:22 PM

We make the tenant have the utilities transferred to their name prior to getting the keys which makes it easy for us.

When we started out I would sometimes allow the tenant to pay me for them if they didn't have the requisite deposit to get the utilities in their name. As you can imagine these were the tenants to be slow or no pay so I wanted to turn the utilities off since our lease clearly states that tenant is responsible for all utilities and they must be transferred to their name. My atty told me I couldn't do that since the court would rightfully interpret it as retaliatory measures. Of course I have never done that again.

We have several townhouses where the water is included in the HOA. The HOA's keep increasing due to the water that no one pays attention to since they are not paying for it directly. Now I add on $40/tenant for the water and call it rent. Scott since you are precluded from transferring the water I would increase the rent and be done with it.


Since you are in NC do you use the Revert to Owner Program with Piedmont and Duke?

When a tenant moves out the utility reverts to me. If it is turned off while their lease is still active we aren't charged and I don't have to worry it. Charlotte water doesn't participate in this program but perhaps your does.

illegal lease clause? (by moby [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 9:07 PM

From what I understand in Indiana only the sewer bill can be attached to the property by state law, no other utility. If this has been changed then our elected representatives should be made aware of a landlords point of view.

I try make sure the last sewer bill is paid before the deposit is returned.

illegal lease clause? (by moby [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 9:11 PM

Also the judge may be a lawyer but he is not permitted to offer legal advice.

illegal lease clause? (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 10:44 PM


"Aren't you a lawyer?" CLASSIC!! LOVE IT!!

Good for you for jumping on the eviction. In Indiana you can FILE the day the rent is late. Gotta know YOUR judge because they are notorious for doing things their own way.

I can help you with the real facts in Indiana. I only charge $3,000 per hour! :)

First, remember the law makers that made this a law when you vote next time. They really did a number on all LLs. They don't care about you and they like it because this brings in more money without chasing deadbeat renters.

Second, in Indiana if the utility is in YOUR name YOU have to keep it on while the home is occupied, no matter what our residents do. To turn it off or allow it to go to disconnect is considered "constructive eviction" which is illegal and can put YOU in jail. Crazy yes, but true.

Rather than complain just adapt. Protect yourself by making the water/sewer bill part of the rent.

It's simple. We advertise a rent price and when it's time to sign the lease we explain the water/sewer bill is paid along with their rent so $____ is the rent amount. Everyone likes the idea of one less bill.

You get the money to pay the bill. You know each month or each PayDayPlan where you stand.

For one neighborhood we do a set amount each month. In another we send the a text with amount of their water/sewer bill that will be taken out as rent that time.

If eviction rolls around Indiana is based on unpaid RENT.

My lease is clear: all monies received are applied to the unpaid balance. Any unpaid balance is considered unpaid rent and grounds for eviction.

So next time apply her money to the bill and she still owes rent.

Now, about that $3,000...


illegal lease clause? (by BRAD 20,000 [IN]) Posted on: Nov 30, 2017 10:49 PM

I re-read your question. Here's more.

Judges are not allowed to give legal advice. That's why he made the comment.

Judges don't normally evict based on lease violations unless the violation is dangerous or illegal such as meth labs.

My stress level went WAAY down when I simply read thru the LL/Tenant laws and re-wrote my lease to walk alongside the law, putting on MY side.

Illegal clause? It's not illegal to have that clause but it only provides an intimidation factor, not a full on eviction.


illegal lease clause? (by Robert J [CA]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 12:18 AM

In a High-Class City near Los Angeles, the landlord is responsible to cover any utility or City services not paid by the tenant. Each time a tenant from this home I rent out moves, I have the City provide me with detailed records of any "past due bills". Most of the time the City says, "That's personal information and we can't release it to anyone, not even the landlord". But once the bill becomes 90 days late, the City send me a big fat bill, detailed with lots of fines and late fee's. They release the information when it suits them.

So when I am forced to refund my tenants deposit within 21 days but won't get City records for another 2-1/2 months -- this creates a major problem for my pocket book.

So I now give notice to my City that if they refuse to disclose any past due bills, I will not cover them because I have to refund my deposit to the tenant in a timely manner. The City didn't think that I would sue them, but I have done it in small claims court. Since the bills were sent to my home address, I sue them in my local court, not their court some 40 miles away. (They also conduct other business in my local court so I get away with this tactic).


illegal lease clause? (by WMH [NC]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 5:34 AM

NC Investor, our water is local - provided by individual towns. Each requires that the owner's name be the responsible party but they will mail the bill to the tenant. I don't take advantage of that because I want to know if someone isn't paying. So they send the bills to me, I scan them and email to the tenants for them to pay directly.

I don't use the "Revert to Owner" option with Dominion Power because I don't WANT the bills to revert to us if they go unpaid! I want the power to go OFF if a tenant doesn't pay.

illegal lease clause? (by Kyle [IN]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 6:22 AM

I have seen IN judges grant possession back to the landlord because of unpaid utilities. I think your issue may be accepting rent after filing. This is a debated issue in IN, but at least one judge I know will dismiss any eviction if the LL accepted any payments after filing.

illegal lease clause? (by cjl [NY]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 8:53 AM

It's the same in the city (or wherever the water "authority" is) that the owner of the property is ultimately responsible for the water bill. They will place it in the tenant's name but if the tenant doesn't pay - the owner gets a copy of the bill as an FYI.

Make sure it's in your lease that the tenant is responsible for the water/sewer when billed. Also make sure that you have something in the lease that states something like "added rent". I make other charges (such as late fees and water/sewer bills and any violations, etc) as "added rent".

I've been in front of the judge where the tenant said "yeah but the owner is responsible for that bill judge ..." The judge looked at me and said "they are right - why are you including that in with the amount owed"? I said "here is a copy of the lease that indicates they are responsible to pay when billed" and handed it to them. He then looked at them and said "well, it looks as though this is your responsibility ... " It's a game the tenant's like to do because they never "recall" what's in a lease and they really like the landlords that rent to them with no paperwork ...

I've had the person that does my serving to the tenants also advise me that I can't include late fees, water/sewer, etc in with the amount owed ... I tell them "the amount owed is $xxx.xx" That's it. I don't get into it. I do not break it out in anything I provide. It's all rent owed.

I'm not saying the same thing will work in your area but I would certainly speak to an attorney and see what you CAN do and add the proper wording into your lease. If for whatever reason you end up with the "no, it can't be done" then RAISE THE RENT to include the water/sewer bills. If the yearly amount is $1200 ... then increase the rent by $100. Simple enough.

illegal lease clause? (by CGB [MI]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 4:13 PM

Check your state laws in detail. An attorney may not even know the law in this regard. In Michigan, the law states you can file an "affidavit" with the city providing the tenants name for billing services. However, most cities don't know this and I have heard of other landlords who called their respective cities who never heard of the law and thought they were crazy. Some were told they could do it with a deposit, which is not a stipulation in the law. Bottom line, cities are lazy and don't want to chase a deadbeat tenant when they can go after a landlord with an asset.

illegal lease clause? (by Kurt [MI]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 5:01 PM

What is the legality of having a "base" rent and a "variable" rent?

the variable rent covering utilities expenses?

Otherwise it seems you'd just have to raise the rent to cover for your new expense, the water bill.

illegal lease clause? (by Tom [FL]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 5:39 PM

Scott of IN, The judge is "The Judge". In your case he's correct in saying you need an attorney. It's good that you thought and did not say to the judge while you are an attorney. Take a weekend and read your IN tenant law, especially the new water bill factor and change your lease. Yes Judges can be frustrating but there are times when the lease needs to be updated with changes to the law. --99.56.xx.xx

illegal lease clause? (by Deanna [TX]) Posted on: Dec 1, 2017 7:51 PM

Just as a random piece of trivia, but on the occasions I've needed to do eviction hearings, it's all been in JP Court. And while other places might be different, in TX, at least, you don't need to be an attorney to be a Justice of the Peace.

Sometimes that leads to very frustrating situations-- having someone without a comprehensive understanding of the law making rulings and decisions and setting precedent, even on minor issues.

illegal lease clause? (by don [PA]) Posted on: Dec 4, 2017 3:00 PM

Usually, a judge is a lawyer. However, they are not YOUR lawyer---they cannot give you legal advice on your case.

illegal lease clause? (by Ray-N-Pa [PA]) Posted on: Dec 4, 2017 4:26 PM

Incentive for good behavior or bad behavior goes a long way. Don't force them to shift the water bill, just charge them a $15 a month processing fee if you have to collect the money for the water bill and get it paid.

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