Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

This is a discussion on Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court? within the Civil Litigation forum, part of the ATTORNEYS, COURTS, LITIGATION category; I've seen this question on many websites but the answers are always different. My roommate and I moved into an ...

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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 05:33 PM   #1
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Default Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

I've seen this question on many websites but the answers are always different.

My roommate and I moved into an apartment. We agreed to pay half of utilities. 4 months into the lease, she decided to no longer stay at the house and move back home with her parents.
I have utilities, cable/internet and electricity bills in my name. (She was younger and I felt it was more appropriate and responsible to have the bills in my name)
I can kind of understand her not paying water (even though we have to let it run in the winter so our pipes dont freeze) but our electricity is on a budget bill. 187 a month. (the house we live in costs a lot to heat and cool. tall ceilings, big rooms, horrible insulation)
and our cable bill is on a contract at 111 a month.

I don't feel that it is right for me to be responsible for 100% of these payments since they are the same whether she is here or not.

After her now being moved out for 3 months, she has now told me that she will no longer pay any utilities and I should be thankful that she paid any to begin with.

Can I take her to court for the remainder bill amount? Our lease is up in March.

I went into this lease with the understanding that she would be my roommate and that I would only be responsible for half of the utilities. Is it legal for her to just up and leave everything for me to pay? Am I in the wrong for not wanting a roommate that I don't even know take her place? I understand that in Comcast and Dominions eyes, the bills are MY responsibility but is she legally responsible for paying her part?

We live in Richmond, Virginia

Thanks!
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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 06:17 PM   #2
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Default re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

I wish to inform you that an oral contract is a legal contract. However, the burden will be on you to prove in the court that the agreement took place. It would help if you had a witness to the agreement who could inform the court as to the facts. It is the duty of your friend to pay her share in the utilities till the period agreed to. It is your duty to mitigate the damages by getting a new room mate. You may give a written notice to your friend. If the friend does not resolve the matter, you may file a lawsuit. The court will consider all the facts and decide the matter. You may self represent in the court or seek guidance from Legal Aid to reduce the expenses of litigation.

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Old Nov 18th, 2011, 11:16 PM   #3
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Default Re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

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Originally Posted by chantibabi View Post
I've seen this question on many websites but the answers are always different.

My roommate and I moved into an apartment. We agreed to pay half of utilities. 4 months into the lease, she decided to no longer stay at the house and move back home with her parents.
I have utilities, cable/internet and electricity bills in my name. (She was younger and I felt it was more appropriate and responsible to have the bills in my name)
I can kind of understand her not paying water (even though we have to let it run in the winter so our pipes dont freeze) but our electricity is on a budget bill. 187 a month. (the house we live in costs a lot to heat and cool. tall ceilings, big rooms, horrible insulation)
and our cable bill is on a contract at 111 a month.

I don't feel that it is right for me to be responsible for 100% of these payments since they are the same whether she is here or not.

After her now being moved out for 3 months, she has now told me that she will no longer pay any utilities and I should be thankful that she paid any to begin with.

Can I take her to court for the remainder bill amount? Our lease is up in March.

I went into this lease with the understanding that she would be my roommate and that I would only be responsible for half of the utilities. Is it legal for her to just up and leave everything for me to pay? Am I in the wrong for not wanting a roommate that I don't even know take her place? I understand that in Comcast and Dominions eyes, the bills are MY responsibility but is she legally responsible for paying her part?

We live in Richmond, Virginia

Thanks!
In most jurisdictions, verbal contracts are just as legally valid as written contracts. The problem with verbal contracts, however, is that since it was never put in writing, each of the two sides tends to have a different version of exactly what the terms were. When they end up in court, it inevitably turns into he said/she said situation with the judge trying to figure out exactly what the agreement really was.

As for the agreement that the ex-roommate pays half of the utilities, that would have been fine, except that when she moved out SHE NO LONGER USED THE UTILITIES. Are you SERIOUSLY trying to make them pay for something they aren't even using anymore?

If you can't afford these additional bills, try getting a new roommate who you can get to share the expense with. As for the things like the Cable and Internet, since that bill is in your name, and you are the only one now using it, it's ALL YOURS. If you can't afford it anymore, then cancel the service.

Take note that if both you and the former roommate signed the lease for the apartment, that even if she decided to move out, she is still LEGALLY OBLIGATED to pay for the rent. The lease would be considered a joint and several obligation, meaning that either or both of you would be liable for paying the rent. If one moves out, then the OTHER still has to pay the full rent. However, as the remaining tenant, YOU could sue your former roommate for the portion of the rent that she is no longer paying. That is strictly LL/T law, and doesn't require her to still LIVE in the apartment in order to remain obligated to her rent payments.
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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In most jurisdictions, verbal contracts are just as legally valid as written contracts. The problem with verbal contracts, however, is that since it was never put in writing, each of the two sides tends to have a different version of exactly what the terms were. When they end up in court, it inevitably turns into he said/she said situation with the judge trying to figure out exactly what the agreement really was.

As for the agreement that the ex-roommate pays half of the utilities, that would have been fine, except that when she moved out SHE NO LONGER USED THE UTILITIES. Are you SERIOUSLY trying to make them pay for something they aren't even using anymore?

If you can't afford these additional bills, try getting a new roommate who you can get to share the expense with. As for the things like the Cable and Internet, since that bill is in your name, and you are the only one now using it, it's ALL YOURS. If you can't afford it anymore, then cancel the service.

Take note that if both you and the former roommate signed the lease for the apartment, that even if she decided to move out, she is still LEGALLY OBLIGATED to pay for the rent. The lease would be considered a joint and several obligation, meaning that either or both of you would be liable for paying the rent. If one moves out, then the OTHER still has to pay the full rent. However, as the remaining tenant, YOU could sue your former roommate for the portion of the rent that she is no longer paying. That is strictly LL/T law, and doesn't require her to still LIVE in the apartment in order to remain obligated to her rent payments.

Yes. I am seriously trying to make her pay for something she isn't using anymore.

If you would of read what I wrote, the Comcast (internet and cable) bill is under a year contract. I can't cancel it without being penalized a fee. No matter whether she is here or not, the bill for the Comcast would still be the same. We are not charged for the amount of internet we use, so whether she is here every day or one day out of the week, we both initially agreed to pay half. We signed a lease for a year agreement. Am I supposed to go without water, electricity and internet while being a full time student because my roommate decided to up and leave? I can't afford everything on my own.
She is paying half of the rent, but the bills for a house this big are on the more expensive side. If I wouldn't of moved in with a roommate, I would of picked a smaller place to live which would then make the bills lower. The electricity alone is around 250 dollars a month without being on the budget bill and that's keeping the house at the minimum temperature possible to where I'm not freezing or sweating. The point is, this is a big house, with large utility bills. If I would of known that she wouldn't of paid half, then I would of known that I wouldn't of been able to afford it and wouldn't of moved into this place to begin with.
Thank you for your input, but if you would like to give your advice at future times, please read the entire post before doing so. Also, I'm looking for professional advice and by your tone, it doesn't seem like you know the law exceptionally well. Thanks!
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 09:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

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Yes. I am seriously trying to make her pay for something she isn't using anymore.

If you would of read what I wrote, the Comcast (internet and cable) bill is under a year contract. I can't cancel it without being penalized a fee. No matter whether she is here or not, the bill for the Comcast would still be the same. We are not charged for the amount of internet we use, so whether she is here every day or one day out of the week, we both initially agreed to pay half. We signed a lease for a year agreement. Am I supposed to go without water, electricity and internet while being a full time student because my roommate decided to up and leave? I can't afford everything on my own.
She is paying half of the rent, but the bills for a house this big are on the more expensive side. If I wouldn't of moved in with a roommate, I would of picked a smaller place to live which would then make the bills lower. The electricity alone is around 250 dollars a month without being on the budget bill and that's keeping the house at the minimum temperature possible to where I'm not freezing or sweating. The point is, this is a big house, with large utility bills. If I would of known that she wouldn't of paid half, then I would of known that I wouldn't of been able to afford it and wouldn't of moved into this place to begin with.
Thank you for your input, but if you would like to give your advice at future times, please read the entire post before doing so. Also, I'm looking for professional advice and by your tone, it doesn't seem like you know the law exceptionally well. Thanks!
As stated in my previous post, if you choose to continue living alone now after the roommate has moved out, then you cannot force the roommate to continue paying for expenses she no longer shares. You are now the only one using them, and the only one who can be held accountable for their costs.

If you cannot afford these expenses unless someone else is sharing them, I would suggest getting a new roommate who you can share both the rent and living expenses with. Of course, at that point, you could no longer charge the FORMER roommate for the rent anymore, because her share of the rent would be covered by that being paid by the replacement roommate.

If you don't agree, you are welcome to try to sue the former roommate for these utilities; however, I'm fairly confident that if presented to a judge, they would bring up the same reasons for NOT forcing her to pay them.
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Old Nov 19th, 2011, 11:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

Depending on the terms of the agreement, she may be on the hook for the utilities.

Is there a lease? A month to month?

I disagree with the responses you have receive so far and agree with you regarding the poster's general knowledge of the law.

Your best bet it so consult with an attorney regarding Landlord/Tenant law in your state for more accurate, less personally opined responses.
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Old Nov 24th, 2011, 11:19 AM   #7
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19UOTE=Unregistered;237730]Depending on the terms of the agreement, she may be on the hook for the utilities.

Is there a lease? A month to month?

I disagree with the responses you have receive so far and agree with you regarding the poster's general knowledge of the law.

Your best bet it so consult with an attorney regarding Landlord/Tenant law in your state for more accurate, less personally opined responses.[/QUOTE]
There is a lease. It is not month to month. We signed a year lease together. And 4 months in, she just decided to up and leave.
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Old Nov 24th, 2011, 03:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

As far as I know if her name was not on the lease then it would come down to your word against hers and she will win. That's why it's always important to have things in writing.
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Old Nov 24th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #9
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Does anyone read before they reply? Y'all are NO Help. Are any of you even familiar with the laws in Virginia? Geesh!
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Old Nov 24th, 2011, 08:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: Do Verbal Agreements really hold up in court?

Chanti, since you posted under two different names I wasn't aware you were the original poster. Since there was a lease you can sue her. There also seems to be a problem with the way your requoting of someone else showed up.
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