By Mark B. Zinman| Zona Law
Question: I have a single-family home that I rent out. Unfortunately, I forgot to check the boxes on the lease to show that the tenant is liable for utilities, and now the tenant doesn’t want to reimburse me for utilities. The utilities are in my name. What can I do?
Answer: There are arguments you can make, but there is no guaranteed way to ensure you get paid. Generally, a contract is to be enforced as written. When a contract is not clear, the legal doctrine says that it is supposed to be interpreted against the drafter. In this case, the contract is not confusing, you just disagree with what is written. Further, you are the one that drafted it. Therefore, you may have to rely on the argument that there is a “mutual mistake” in the drafting. You would have to serve notice and then try to evict – it would then be up to a judge to determine the parties’ intent versus what was put in writing. There is no way to guarantee what a judge will do.