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Roommate with child, won't pay utilites for the child Rent, Utilities

Discussion in 'Roomate & Joint Leases' started by DanW, Dec 23, 2019.

  1. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    California
    We have a house in Sonoma county, California. There are 7 adults, one of whom has a child; making a total of 8 people. The rental agreement specifies that all utilities will be divided equally per person.

    The woman with the child claims that she is only liable for 1/7 of the utilities, and that we can't legally count her child as a person for dividing the utilities . I on the other hand believe she is liable for 2/8 of the utilities ( 1/8th for herself and 1/8th for her child)

    Who is right and what are the relevant regulations?
     
  2. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I can think of one in particular. It's the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution which begins with the words:

    "All persons born..."

    A child is a "person born."

    Beyond that, It's what is in your rental agreement that counts. It says "person" she pays 2/8.

    A child is certainly a person and does contribute to the use of utilities. Just show her the dictionary definition of "person."

    And ask her the following questions:

    1 - Does she buy enough food only for herself and feed the child from her plate or does she buy enough food for her and her child?

    2 - Does she buy clothing only for herself and dress the child in her clothing or does she buy clothing for both of them?

    All of her living expenses are for two people: her and the child. So should her share of the utilities and rent be. Except maybe for the rent if she pays for just one room for her and the child.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Your answer to this is in the lease agreement. If the lease is not clear and you can't come to terms then you can take the matter to court and let a judge decide.
    I would say your expectation that she pay a portion for the child is reasonable, but my opinion doesn't matter.
    If she really wants to argue the matter you might suggest she start looking for somewhere else to live where the expectations are lower.
     
  4. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    In California lease agreements don't amount to much, if there is a statute that it contradicts.

    I need an answer about what the actual law is in my jurisdiction. I was hoping that by coming here, someone would have that information. Lawyers here charge $300 dollars an hour, the total disputed amount is about $450, So hiring a lawyer would put me at a loss from the beginning.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    So..... What does your lease agreement say about it?
     
  6. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Well-Known Member

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    The US Constitution is the supreme law of the land and describes what a person is as AdjuserJack posted. So if you want law there it is.
     
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Here is the complete California landlord tenant statute:

    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/f...ision=3.&title=5.&part=4.&chapter=2.&article=

    I did a word search for "person" (you do the same) and found nothing that would be of any help to you. I did a word search for "child" and found no matches.

    Since there is nothing in there that contradicts your lease, your lease becomes paramount.

    If you aren't comfortable with action or inaction based on what you have read here, then I suggest you consult an attorney if you want to pursue the issue.
     
  8. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    The problem is that there is no specific law that addresses this, so you go by the lease, as explained above. If you aren't willing to spend money to figure this out, then suck it up...really.
     
  9. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    The ABOVE is your answer. If you cannot resolve this then taking the matter to court is next option
     
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  10. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    One would have to read the lease to answer this (and there are no "regulations" that would be applicable here).

    I know what you're getting at, but this is too broad a statement to be correct.

    There is neither a California state law nor a Sonoma County ordinance on this issue. There are at least 21 cities in Sonoma County, and you haven't identified your city, so we can't know if there's anything relevant.

    Oh, stop. The U.S. Constitution neither "describes what a person is," nor does it have anything to do with this situation.

    Exactly. If the language of the OP's lease doesn't resolve this, then the OP has two choices:

    1. If the tenant is on a month-to-month lease, then the OP should be able to change the terms by giving a month's (or 60 days') notice.

    2. The OP can try to evict the tenant.
     
  11. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    Dan are you another tenant or the Landlord/Owner?
     
  12. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm in between. I rent the house from the owner, the others rent rooms from me.
     
  13. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I live just outside the city limits of Santa rosa, in an unincorporated area
     
  14. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Ok, then what does your contract with your tenant say?
     
  15. shrinkmaster

    shrinkmaster Well-Known Member

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    If others rent from you then what were the rental agreements? Is it in writing. Do you have owners permission to sublet?
     
  16. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Why wasn't this addressed before she moved in?

    Then I seriously doubt that there is any local law or regulation that will help you.
     
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  17. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Because it never occurred to me that there would be dispute about it.
     
  18. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If it wasn't addressed, then you really don't have a contract on the matter, do you? There was no meeting of the minds.
     
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  19. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Then there is no relevant law.

    You told us that "[t]he rental agreement specifies that all utilities will be divided equally per person." Care to quote the exact language?

    You also told us that you (apparently by yourself) "rent the house from the owner," and that "others[, as subtentants,] rent rooms from." That being the case, is the language that specifies utilities are divided equally per person in your lease with the landlord? In your sublease(s) with your subtenants (is there more than one sublease)? Both?
     
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  20. DanW

    DanW Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The utilities are all in my name, and my lease with the landlord has no reference to utilities.

    I'm not clear on what you mean by "more than one sublease", none of my sub-tenents, have leases with anyone under them, but I have subleases with multiple sub-tenants. how is this relevent?

    I think we are getting away from the point, which is can a parent be charged for utilities for their child, or are children legally exempt.
     

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