My lease specifically stated that the landlord pays, hot water, water (it's a well so he would pay to pump the water) and sewer ( septic pump) I found out, by accident, that for the last SEVEN years I have been paying these bills. I might add, this well is shared by another residence on the property AND his barn where he kept livestock. The breakers for the hot water heater, well pump and septic pump are in MY electrical box. He knew I found out, so when he renewed my lease this year, he omitted who pays for those utilities. The fact remains, I have 6 years of lease contracts that state otherwise and electric bills to prove I've been paying for what he stated he would pay. What recourse do I have to recover some of these expenses? After 7 years, I will be moving. He blatantly lied to my face too. At one point he was thinking of selling this property and in front of a potential buyer stated that HE pays the hot water, well and septic pump bills. I'm beside myself. I have been a good tenant, always paid my rent by the 1st. I don't want to lose my security deposit but do know I was absorbing at least $50 a month for the past 7 years that he should have been paying. Is this something for small claims court or are there other legal advocates for renters that I could contact?

  • What state/city are you in? Mar 30, 2019 at 23:59
  • I'm in Wisconsin
    – Janet
    Mar 31, 2019 at 1:47
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    No reason to downvote the question or answer; the OP is asking if something is relevant for small claims, not if they should go to small claims. Mar 31, 2019 at 15:12

1 Answer 1


Is this something for small claims court

Yes. The explicitness of your prior leases overrides the statutory variations that might exist among jurisdictions in this regard. And the total of 50$/month for six or seven years indicates that you would have to pursue recovery in small claims court (at least if the landlord refuses to reimburse you).

In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for breach of contract is six years. See 893.43. Statute of limitations means the lapse of time upon which claims of certain type are no longer actionable.

Thus, you would only be able to recover the fees of the latest 6 years except for this year's lease, since your current lease no longer specifies that the landlord will cover that cost.

For more information on small claims courts, see chapter 799 of the Wisconsin statutory law.

  • Whoever anonymously downvoted this answer, be "brave" enough to explain why. Otherwise, your downvoting seems to be simply based on who authored the answer. Rather than affecting me, your downvote tends to confuse the OP as to the verifiable information she needs and which herein is provided to her. Mar 31, 2019 at 12:54
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    All downvotes carry the reason of "This answer is not useful". I've always been against trying to badger downvoters into explaining themselves beyond that. We don't do this for upvoters, so this only discourages downvoting and so impedes the functions and intentions of the site. Though if you feel you have observed a trend indicating that someone is serially downvoting you for no apparent reason, then posting a meta question or raising a mod flag may be appropriate, as mods can investigate to see if anyone is violating rules with their voting behavior on your answers. Mar 31, 2019 at 21:32
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    The situation is virtually symmetric, as much the same issues can be raised with upvotes. "This answer is useful" is also too generic and not helpful in pointing out what makes it useful, especially when compared to other answers that might exist. And upvoters can be similarly ill-behaved, upvoting because they think the poster is popular; or said something funny; or mocked a certain political figure; etc. It's the aggregate voting behavior the site is looking for, not individual ones. Comments from voters can certainly be helpful either way, but pestering and challenging voters is bad. Mar 31, 2019 at 22:01
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    You don't get to make up the rules about what a "responsible downvoter" would or would not do. This has been discussed and there are no plans to require downvoters to comment: meta.stackexchange.com/a/2373/191978 Downvotes are intentionally disconnected from commenting. Claiming irresponsibility on the part of the downvoter won't change anything, and certainly doesn't help.
    – Matt
    Apr 1, 2019 at 0:44
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    Expressing community expectations and reasons therefore is not confusing or hostile. Nor is it impulsive or angry. Downvoting is a part of the platform. Demanding people follow your own expectations, and calling them irresponsible if they don't, is making up rules. If you are unable to handle downvotes that everyone else can, you may reconsider where the problem lies.
    – Matt
    Apr 1, 2019 at 11:54

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