My question involves a roommate in the State of: MA
Nearly a year ago, one of my friends from college bought an old, 3 floor rowhouse and asked me to move in with her. We sat down and talked out the details a few times before I agreed to move in, to make sure I could afford to move to this bigger and nicer home.
I have a heavy student loan burden and I explained to her what the MAXIMUM amount I could pay each month was, including utilities. Since she owns the house (but had not lived there a full winter yet), I looked to her to help figure out if this would work out financially with the amount she requested in rent and an even split of utilities up to the maximum I could pay. She agreed and said that should be enough to cover everything and gave me a key to move in. There was no written document.
In the same conversation, I also explicitly requested we be on a 12 month billing cycle for the oil bill. That way, we would lock in a price per gallon and could budget properly. She agreed to this as well. However, when the end of summer rolled around and she chose an oil contract, she went with a "pay as you go" oil delivery because the 12 month had a service fee. I feel like violated our original agreement and resulted in some of the issues we are not having regarding the oil bill.
This winter, when the oil bills got very high (despite keeping the system between 52 and 62 degrees... brrrrr), I was being asked by my roommate to make an even spit which equated to nearly the rent I was paying each month. She acknowledged I could not afford this and that it was past our original agreement. She covered the bill and I paid her the rent amount, plus whatever additional I could (ranging from the full maximum I could afford to a hundred dollars over that). In March, we talked about the bills again and I agreed to pay her simply the flat maximum all year, so paying more in the summer would balance toward the heating, but it was still the maximum we agreed upon and the maximum I could afford.
It is now June and I have been paying her a flat fee check of the maximum (per my understanding of the March agreement) since March. Last week, she approached me about my personal spending (or what she BELIEVES it to be by her observations) and asked for the remaining heating money from the winter. We had a disagreement about this, because we came to an agreement when I first moved in and yet again in March but now she is changing all the rules (it is HER house). I offered and agreed to move out by August but she still expects me to pay the remaining balance on the heat. Because our original agreement was to split utilities UP to my maximum I could pay, I don't feel I am obligated to pay that bill. Granted, we made the agreement before either of us knew the true realities of her heating system, but that is the agreement that would have been signed on paper if we had written up a formal lease.
Is my logic correct, or do I have a legal responsibility past the agreed upon terms?