I have subleased a studio in Illinois, and did paperwork officially with the leasing office. The original lease was until July 31, 2019, so I signed the lease to take responsibility of the lease (and charges) starting from Dec 1, 2018.

As I moved in, in all surprises, the landlord give me bills for October and November, asking me to pay. I only moved in on Dec 1. The previous tenant is not responsive, and says they moved out and handed keys on Nov 1.

Only thing I know is I should not pay for utility bills, and I'm planning to raise it to BBB. The bills, just like how electricity and internet billing works, should be billed to the right person who used them.

What should I do? And what are my options? I feel very stupid and scammed right now.

1 Answer 1


You are responsible vis-a-vis the landlord. If the obligations are not current, then the landlord has a right to terminate the primary lease, and your sublease is derivative of the primary lease, so you would be evicted.

You, in turn, would have a right to sue the tenant of the original lease from whom you subleased, for any funds you had to expend to bring the lease current due to charged preceding your lease term.

  • 1
    "Does it mean if the previous charges are not paid?" Yes. An eviction would be through the normal legal eviction process. A money judgment might also enter against you for the unpaid charges and you could have to pay those plus the landlord's attorneys' fees and litigation costs from your bank accounts and wages and other property. And, it would ruin your credit rating.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 0:08
  • 1
    @TinaJ The landlord could bill the orginal people, but you are there and they are not, you live in the apartment and can be evicted, they don't live there and cannot be evicted. So it's much easier for the landlord to ask you for the money. It sucks for you. If you were the landlord, you would do the same thing. Suing means he asks a court to make you pay, the police will not be involved.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 1:02
  • 1
    @gnasher729 I get that they just think about money. But "legally" who should they bill? BTW, is there any disadvantages of me asking for a court? The bills are a few hunder dollars, but I want to experience the court and the process.
    – Mary
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 1:23
  • 5
    Legally, you've assumed the lease by subletting. So you're now responsible for the lease. If you had gotten the landlord to cancel the original lease and lease to you directly, he would've gone after the previous tenant for any unpaid bills.
    – pboss3010
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 12:43
  • 2
    @TinaJ " is suing the same as reporting to police?" No. Suing means filing a lawsuit in court. You can sue someone in another state, although it might be hard to enforce if you don't know where they are employed or they don't have bank accounts. If is not a crime to not pay your rent. If the court orders you evicted, the police may end up assisting the landlord in causing you to leave the property however, if you don't move out first.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 19:28

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