Wording for my lease to protect me if I'm paying water and heat?

9 Replies

I just brought my first duplex in Baltimore City, 21213 area that I'll be house hacking.  I wanted to know what the best wording for my lease to protect me if I'm paying the utilities? I'll be paying for water and gas radiator heat. I only want to cover up to a certain amount for water and heat and have the tenants pay any overages. Also, if anyone from the Baltimore area has an updated lease I could use I'd greatly appreciate it.  Thank you in advance!

Well Don’t count on the lease to protect you in court . You could have the most solid iron clad lease looked over by 100 lawyers and it may not matter in a courtroom where the judge won’t even read through it . 

There is no lease language that will guarantee protection. If they do not pay you will be forced to evict assuming your state regulations allow evictions based on utilities owed.

Your best option is to simply raise the rent to cover the anticipated cost, plus some, and hope for the best. It is unfortunately never a good idea to invest in a multi unit that does not have separate utility metering. You should consider separating the utilities now before you have a tenant.

Welcome to BP @Angelo Davis

Sadly in MD, at least Baltimore city, you cannot evict based on water. The judges will not allow it. I presume they would handle other utilities also.  Their position is; it is not rent so doesn't apply in rent court, go to district court to collect your utilities. 

I suggest you check out Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc (BNI) a landlord tenant organization and a meetup called Landlord411. BNI offers a very good book on Baltimore landlord tenant laws and also has a lease available.

Originally posted by @Ned Carey :

I suggest you check out Baltimore Neighborhoods Inc (BNI) a landlord tenant organization and a meetup called Landlord411. BNI offers a very good book on Baltimore landlord tenant laws and also has a lease available.

Just a heads-up Ned, BNI is no more.

"Baltimore Neighborhoods, Inc. (BNI) will cease operations at the end of August 2018. Read the press release here"

BNI Press release

"The last day that the Tenant Landlord hotline will be taking calls is Friday August 10th."

Go to utility company get the avg numbers. Rather advertising free utilities, you stipulate you will send them a bill each month on the overages to be included in the rent.


@Lamont Marable   maybe the small meetup group Landlord411 will grow to take it's place. The good news is Landlord411 comes from a landlords perspective and not the tenants perspective. 

I concur with finding out the average monthly utility cost, increase it by 20% and just add it to the rent. Replace all the incandescent bulbs with CLFs or LEDs, including common areas. That will save a TON of money.