Utilities

7 Replies

I need some help in figuring out my next step.  I've had new tenants in my townhouse rental since October 1, 2014.  They pay their rent on time, I've done 1 walk through so far and everything looked great, but I'm having problems with getting them to change the water, sewage and trash into their name.  (Only came about after my January walk through as those bills are quarterly here).  Upon signing the lease, they understood that all utilities are the tenants responsibility.  I gave them a sheet with all the phone numbers and companies attached to make the changes.  They got everything switched except these two (water is one and sewage and trash is another).  I've had zero problems with them other than this.  I've forwarded them copies of the bill, offered to even change the lease terms and keep it in my name and add on to the rent quarterly and they said no, they plan on staying long term and will happily switch them...yet, I just called the water authority to confirm, and although the bill was paid, it has yet to be switched.  

What would you do?  I can think of a few ways to handle this, but I'm not sure which is best.  Of course, I do not want a bill to go delinquent in my name, so I'm on the verge of paying this bill and then adding it to next month's rent and sending a certified letter explaining why and the change of terms.

I would do a 5 day notice that you are cancelling utilities in your name notice. Something is up- maybe they can not put utilities in their names because of prior mishaps.

If you keep them in your name- get a deposit for 2x the ave utility bill as another deposit. Otherwise the same will continue.

@Kristen T.  Can tenants put water and sewer in their name in your area? Here the water and sewer MUST stay in the name of the owner. So I figure an average cost and figured that into the cost of the rent, instead of forwarding them the bill.

keep those utilities in your name , if they dont pay them and move out you wont get them back on till you pay the bill or worse the companies could tax lien the prperty .   You pay the bill , then send them a bill for the utlilities and call it additional rent . 

If they have lied to you about this they will lie about other things.

Get them on the right track now or you will be dealing with problems in the future.

It's all about training them and following up.

Don't let it slide. Give them a notice and have the water cut off if they don't put it in their name.  I assume they are adults and they need to act accordingly.

We make tenants give us the confirmation numbers from the various utility companies before they can move in. If they don't, we charge them back the cost to us plus a fine and if they don't pay, we evict. 

As I see it, you have two options. Send them an email and/or certified letter and let them choose which they prefer:

1. Inform them they are in default of their lease and that if they don't have the utilities transferred to their names by "X" date (maybe three to five days), you will have no choice but to proceed with eviction. Tell them you don't want it to come to this, but their lack of prioritizing this matter after repeated requests has left you no choice.

2. Tell them if they want the utilities kept in your name, then they need to sign the attached addendum to the original lease noting this change in terms and immediately submit an increased deposit in the amount of $___. 

That's how I would handle it, and if they don't perform on either of these, then you really have no choice. You cannot let tenants make the rules and blatantly ignore your requests or the lease. Also, in the future, I would not let a tenant move in until they have switched the utilities to their name - avoids all sorts of problems. Good luck!

Sharon Tzib, Real Estate Agent in TX (#653488)

Thank you everyone for your feedback and advice.  This is only my second round of tenants in my landlording experience, and I learned a LOT from my first round, and I guess the curve continues :)  

Yes, you can have tenants in PA put these utilities into their name, but my township does require that I stay on these as landlord/owner for the primary account.  I try to do most of my dealings with all tenants through email so that everything is documented in writing.  So I have a history already accumulated for this switchover of these utilities.  I will go ahead and pay this bill, but should I send them this bill and letter through certified mail over email to ensure the receipt and continue to build a stronger case for eviction if necessary?