My roommate and I signed a one-year lease for an apartment in a small town in upstate New York. Utilities were not part of the rent. It was my understanding that the utility account would go in our names since we were to be responsible for it. When it came time to sign the lease, the landlord explained that she would keep the utilities in her name and pay 25% of the bill since there were two exterior lights included in the bill for our apartment. We agreed to this arrangement until we learned that there was actually another apartment included in our utilities, not just two exterior lights. The landlord initially denied this until we confirmed it with the utility company. We felt the lease was null and void and moved out 2.5 months after moving in.
There is an outstanding balance on the utility account and the landlord is threatening to garnish our wages. Was the lease null and void? What portion of the utility bill are we responsible for? Can landlords garnish wages without going to small claims court?