Tenant and utility problems.

8 Replies

I  allowed a section 8 tenant to move into my property In Chicago Illinois. in our signed agreement It states that she is responsible or all utilities. I called the gas company and they said that she cannot get the gas turned on in her name because she has a past due balance of $500. ( she doesnt have the money to pay) the gas is still on in my name and it is still being used. What should I do? 

While sec8 is a federal program, my experience is that each municipality has their own special way of doing sec8.  Some are easy to work with, some (like Indianapolis) really suck ballz to deal with.  However, in every situation I've been involved with the tenant has a case worker that dictates how this issue will be handled.  Was the case worker involved in the placement of the tenant?  

Also, if they can't get the gas turned on, they really shouldn't be able to live in the unit.  Sec8 is very specific about this.

Call the housing authority or the case worker. You may be either paying the gas bill, or finding a new tenant. 

Originally posted by @Charles Wheeler :

 the gas is still on in my name and it is still being used. What should I do? 

 Hi Charles.  I've learned through experience to never leave any tenant-paid utilities on in my name as of the move-in date.  There may be laws against turning off utilities after a tenant is residing in your unit.  I don't know if there's a law in your area that stipulates you keep the gas on for her (being that it's an extreme winter area,) but from now on, make sure all utilities are taken off your name before tenants move in.  

If a tenant can't afford to have utility service in their own name, I feel they can't afford to rent my properties.

Good luck with this.

I have taken utilities out of my name with S8 in the unit ,,, no recourse if the lease states they pay.

Another (better?) option is to have the unit rented WITH utilities.  The housing authority should be open to the change and increase thier portion of the rent.  The tenant is receiving payment from them for utilities.  At least this way you're paying as much.

@Charles Wheeler whatever you do, do not turn off the utilities despite what others have said above. It may get the tenant to put the utilities into their name but if it doesn't and you have to do an eviction it will not be good for you. They are going to tell the judge you turned the utilities off and that's why they didn't pay rent. As soon as the judge finds out, you will be in serious trouble. This is called a self help eviction and is illegal in may places. Fines and punishment is fairly stiff in most cases.

I agree you have to bring Section 8 into the discussion. If they won't help, maybe you could get a lease addendum that requires the tenant to reimburse you for the costs. When they don't pay you then you could evict them. It's not great but it's better than eating the cost for a year as no tenant on Section 8 is going to come up with $500 just to get utilities turned on.

thank you so much for the feedback! That's why I love this place!

The reality is that just because your tenant has Section 8 there are no exceptions that wouldn't apply to any other tenant. if your lease agreement stipulates that the tenant pays the utilities and they do not pay them, you should file eviction papers. In my area (Central MA), there is about a five year waiting list for Section 8 benefits. You should contact her caseworker immediately and explain the situation and let them know that the tenant is going to be evicted for violating the terms of the lease agreement. Send her a bill for the amount of the gas bill and if she does not pay it she is in violation of the terms of the lease. In my experience, people who are on section 8 don't want to lose their benefits and being evicted will ensure they lose their benefits so she will likely take care of the situation sooner than later. 

I ditto what others have said about contacting her case manager or other officials at the Section 8 program. I would give the tenant a "Notice to Comply" with the terms of the lease regarding the utilities (or the equivalent for your jurisdiction), and cc it to the Section 8 offfice. However, I would not threaten eviction, but rather I would let the tenant and the case manager know what needs to be done to allow the tenant to continue to live in the unit she now occupies. It is not uncommon for Section 8 to also provide program participants with a subsidy for utilities. Everything is negotiable. Work it out so it is a win-win for everyone. Our two longest term tenants (26 yrs and 23 yrs) are Section 8 tenants and are good in every respect, but sometimes we need to be a bit flexible in working with the Section 8 program. Fortunately for us that is easy to do because the folks at our local Housing Authority are nice and efficient. Real community players. Also, absolutely continue to keep the utilities on, in your name if you must, until you are able to sort this out.

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