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KneebTWB

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  1. A friend of mine recently encountered some difficulties with a housemate regarding utilities: The two of them entered into a verbal agreement upon deciding to live together, and my friend is not on the lease that her housemate signed. Rent was decided to be split evenly, and utilities as well. Upon receipt of the utility bill, which was addressed to the housemate, she was supposed to inform my friend of the amount that she owed in that month's utilities. My friend requested, month after month, the amount that was required from her. The housemate always responded "Oh, yes, I've got to get that for you..." but never provided any bill or asked for any sum in payment for my friend's portion of the utilities. My friend pays bills in a timely fashion, and spends carefully. Rent was always paid on-time. Without a bill, however, nor even a rough estimate of an amount owed, she was not able to set aside money in order to keep a running "utilities fund," for when the housemate did bill her. My friend has recently decided to move out, and the housemate has decided to bill her for half of all past utilities, which my friend can no longer afford because it has accumulated to a high value. Is this billing practice legal? It amounts, in my eyes, to the extension of an undocumented, unwanted, and unavoidable line of credit, on which the housemate is now trying to collect. It seems to me that there must be some legal precedent against this, but I cannot seem to find an appropriate law. Everything seems to either have to deal with disputes between debtors and creditors, or with disputes of the amount shown on a bill that was provided in a timely manner. Nothing seems to mention billing neglect that I can find... I, personally, don't think that my friend is in the wrong in withholding payment. The agreement was originally that bills would be provided in a timely manner. These were the responsibility of the housemate to provide. My friend made good-faith efforts, month after month, to obtain a value that she could pay, when she could afford the payment. As no bill was ever provided, that money that would have been used to pay, had a bill been provided, was, instead, spent. My friend's income and assets preclude her from paying off the entire debt, now, especially because she has fewer work-hours, currently. This seems like it would fall under the realm of a deceptive business practice, but I am not sure... Utility bills for the last two months and for this month have been provided to my friend, and she has agreed to pay those, but is refusing to pay the enormous back-log of bills that were never provided to her. Either way, my friend is not on a lease, nor official bills of any kind, so the housemate doesn't seem to have a leg to stand on, should she decide to take legal action. I look forward to your insight
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