those with roommates - utility bills during an absence

My beloved roomie has been away for about a month on vacation - she’ll be back in a week or so, I guess. Anyway, it being winter and all, the gas bills have been ridiculously high. My question is, is it fair for me to ask her to pay for half as per usual, even though she’s been gone for a month? I don’t mind paying the electricity bill for this month on my own, I guess, but it’s not like the apartment uses less gas because she’s not here, and I really cannot afford to pay the gas bill by myself. Hey, that’s the reason why I’m living with a roommate in the first place!

She has paid the rent for the month she’s been away, obviously, since it was her choice not to get a subletter or whatever for that time. I’m just wondering if the same principle can be applied to the utility bills.

Personally, I would say yes (she should pay her share of gas) for the reasons you’ve outlined. If I were the roommate, I personally would also assume to be on the hook for electricity.

Oy - it’s really best to discuss this sort of thing beforehand. But I’d say that, if you didn’t talk about it, the reasonable answer is probably that your friend should pay her share, as usual. She’s paying the rent this month because she committed to paying it monthly when she moved into your place - she made the same commitment regarding the utilities, IMHO.

Yes. Utilities are part of the deal when you rent an apartment.

When I was in college and later when I shared a house with others we would “pro-rate” utilities if someone was gone for a long time (like a month-long vacation).

Your roomie should pay her share of the rent because she didn’t get a subletter and it’s still her room.

However she isn’t heating water, running the furnace, using electricity and so forth so I would say she shouldn’t be on the hook for the utilities.

All that being said, Mr. Excellent has an Excellent Point - discuss this with all roomies so that everybody knows what the deal is.

She hasn’t used any of the gas, so I’d say no. That’s how it works with my roommates.

Maybe I should clarify - we pay for our heating, so our gas bill includes our heating bill. If there were a way to seperate the cooking gas charges from the heating gas charges, I would consider that option.

My point is that I don’t use any less heating because of her absence. I do use less electricity, which is why I’m willing to pay for that myself. But basically if she doesn’t pay the gas for the month she was absent, I’m stuck with paying double the amount I’d usually pay. Which in the winter is a lot.

Ah well. I just wanted to see what other people thought. Thanks for the input everyone. :slight_smile:

Perhaps you could estimate what extra* you think you have used, offer her that, and everyone is happy - well, you get to feel the warmth of good karma and flatmate is probably pleasantly slightly surprised - AND then you can both have a chat about future arrangements for this sort of thing?

  • not that it’s extra exactly. Dammit, I know what I mean. :smiley:

I’d say yes. She’d have to pay utilities for that month if she didn’t have a roommate, neh? (Unless she wanted to pay turn-off/turn-on fees and go through the hassle of having everything disconnected and then hooked back up when she returned - not very likely.)

She IS using the gas, in that her living space (bedroom, etc.) is being heated.

All I can say is that in all the living situations I’ve been in (probably a dozen different roommates, ranging from close friends to complete strangers), it’s always been assumed that utilities are split in the deal, regardless whether one is in the house and uses them or not.

I’m with Redtail. Paying utilities is part of having a house. She paid the rent while she was gone even though technically she wasn’t “using” the apartment. Paying utilities is part and parcel to renting a place. If you go away for a month, you don’t turn off the phone and the utilities, and the landlord doesn’t not charge you for the nights you’re not there.

I agree with everyone else. Utilities are just like the rent – it’s split. Heating is heating, regardless if she’s there or not.

However, if i’m being nice, i might be bend a bit on electricity, though not all the way. Since she’s not actively using electricity, your bill will be smaller this month. However, there’s going to be some base usage that would never go away – refrigerator, common lights, vampire power, etc. She should be on the hook for that.

Utilities are just like the rent- down the middle regardless. You don’t pro-rate for weekends you spend away- I don’t see the point of drawing a line.

Out of curiosity, how old are you/how well-established are you? I can’t see this situation coming up in a housing-share situation more than 3-5 years post-college.

I realize that I’m in the minority on this one, but the roommate is definitely using the apartment while she’s gone - she’s storing her stuff there, nobody else gets to use her room, etc.

Agreed. Down the middle no matter what, and if one party moves out they still owe utilities until the 30 days are up.

Another vote for all rent/utilities split down the middle. Whether you’re there or not, you still have to pay your half of the rent.

Another vote for a full share split: It’s not like she could have turned off the heat while she was gone, after all.

Consider this: If she had her own apartment for the month of December, and she was gone - she’d still have the following bills: Rent, heat, and some electricity. She couldn’t fail to pay any of those bills if she were living on her own, so why should you have to accept responsibility for all of them just because she chose to leave for a month?

Now, if you want, you could choose to offer a 2/3 \ 1/3 split on the gas, since the level of gas use for heating and incidentals is going to be higher in an occupied apartment than a vacant one - but I wouldn’t, in your shoes. In a large part, because I believe that then you would be going to end up with battles because someone’s using most of the electricity some month, or some other such nonsense.

I should add, in the interests of completeness: I no longer live with roommates because for a number of reasons I no longer view the hassle as being worth it economically.

I’m with the crowd - she should pay at least something here. With my last roommate, we always just assumed it was 50/50 on everything every month regardless of any atypical situations. For instance, it was assumed that the internet was pretty much mine because she never used it beyond checking her email. When the bill came, though, she paid half simply because it was agreed that she could use it all she wanted. She chose not to. In the case of your roommate, she could have stayed and used the gas, but she chose not to. It’s not your fault she decided to go away for a month and it can’t be expected that you’d turn the heat down to 50 degrees to only pay your half of the bill that month.

Hell, I had one “roommate” years back who didn’t even live with me - he just kept his stuff in a bedroom - and he still paid half the electric and cable. How I managed to talk him into that I’ll never know.

If the bill is normal size, yes- if its triple because youre throwing sexy parties every night cause the roomies gone, no. :wink: