We have a fully executed lease which states the landlords responsibilities. This is essentially a chart which "checks" what the landlord pays vs. what the tenant pays.

Water, sewer and electricity are all "checked" as "landlord pays". We have operated under this assumption, and have even begun getting "electricity" charges on our rent, as we expected.

That being said - we came home yesterday and found the lights off. We called our service provider and they essentially said that the leasing company has the apartment in their name, but they haven't paid it, and to get it in our name to get the service back on we would need to wait 72+ hours while they investigate. We went back to our leasing company going WTF and they're saying "they made a typo" and this is our problem to deal with.

We were given no indication at any point that we would need to set up electric service in our name, and especially given that they have had multiple contacts with us in recent months over unrelated issues, we have never been told it was our responsibility to do something beyond pay them through our rent.

We are now getting a lot of flack from them, saying that they are not responsible for it, won't help and don't care. Our electricity service provider is requiring the leasing company to pay the charges which are in arrears to get our service back on (at such time we can put it in our name).

I'm looking to see what kind of ground they have to stand on to behave this way, as they have signed a legally binding, fully executed lease which we had no indication was not correct in its entirety.

Additional info - we live in Maryland


1 Answer 1


If a contract does not say what one of the parties wishes it would say, before signing it they should renegotiate the lease. Once the parties have an agreement as witnessed by signatures, a party cannot change the terms of the contract by declaring that some provision of the lease is a "typo". If they want to renegotiate the terms of the contract after the fact, they can, if the other party is willing to give in on the particular point. So as it stands, it seems that the landlord is in breach of contract.

This section of Maryland's landlord-tenant law is relevant to this situation.

(b) In general. -- A tenant may deduct from rent due to a landlord the amount of payments made to a utility service provider for utility service if: (1) An oral or written lease for an affected dwelling unit requires the landlord to pay the utility bill; and (2) (i) The tenant pays all or part of the utility bill, including payments made on a new utility service account; or (ii) The tenant pays any security deposit required to obtain a new utility service account.

(c) Waiver not permitted. -- A tenant's rights under this section may not be waived in any lease.

There is no provision under the law whereby the landlord can be penalized for the inconvenience that you've suffered.

This section of the public utilities law addresses the problem of the landlord's debt, in particular:

(c) If utility service at an affected dwelling unit is subject to the threat of termination or actual termination, a tenant residing in the affected dwelling unit: (1) may apply for a new utility service account in the tenant's name;  and (2) may not incur liability for charges due on the landlord's account.

In particular, (d)(3) says

A utility service provider may not refuse or otherwise condition a tenant's ability to establish a new utility service account in the tenant's name because of arrearages on the landlord's account.

So the utility company is wrong, and so is the landlord.

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