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In the utilities section of a rental agreement, a paragraph ends with the sentence, "Tenants shall be responsible for gas, electricity, and any other costs associated with the internet." In my view, this sentence is flawed because the placement of other changes the meaning of the sentence. Instead of stating internet as an additional cost, placing other implies that gas and electricity are the primary internet costs. A friend of mine is under the impression that the placement of other does not change the meaning of what comes before it in the sentence.

I believe that the individual components of the sentence cannot be viewed in isolation and that subsequent words can have an effect on the overall interpretation of the sentence. I believe the appropriate phrasing for the intended meaning would be the same sentence without the word other. "Tenants shall be responsible for gas, electricity, and any costs associated with the internet."

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  • I agree. So clearly, in fact, that I can say you're right.
    – Royster
    Aug 16 '21 at 23:59
  • could you clarify your question to read "gas and electricity as a cost ..." I lost five minutes trying to figure how how you were distinguishing gas & electricity! Thanks
    – Royster
    Aug 17 '21 at 0:02
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    Perhaps the wording is not ideal, but the intent is clear and you'd lose in court trying to argue that you're not responsible for any gas or electric costs other than those associated with the internet.
    – cruthers
    Aug 17 '21 at 2:20
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You are correct that this internet appears to be quite the resource hog; as it is written here, costs is common to each item in the list:

Tenants shall be responsible for gas [costs], electricity [costs], and any other costs associated with the internet.

However, simply removing other doesn’t entirely fix the problem:

? Tenants shall be responsible for gas, electricity, and any costs associated with the internet.

Does this mean they have to, say, bring their own gas and electricity, and pay for supplied internet?

Try:

Tenants shall be responsible for gas, electricity, and internet costs.

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  • In a situation where the tenants are allowed to negotiate the supply of gas and electricity with a supply company of their choice they are, in effect, supplying their own gas and electricity. In the UK the physical supply of gas and electricity to all on-grid properties is the responsibility of a single, nationally owned company but the provision of and retail billing for those utilities is provided by numerous other companies which compete with each other. Unless the landlord is negotiating a single deal for all the properties and re-billing the tenants the tenants are binging their own
    – BoldBen
    Aug 17 '21 at 7:49
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    If one wanted to be really, really pedantic, one could argue that the third version retains the ambiguity of the second.
    – jsw29
    Aug 17 '21 at 20:57

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