my town won't put the utilities in the tenants name on a SFR

8 Replies

I'm looking for advise on how to handle the water, garbage and gas bill for my single family rental. The town no longer switches them into the tenants name, so I am responsible for it.

Do I send a bill to the tenant each month or do I just figure the costs into the rent? If I do this how do I protect my self from the heat on and the windows open, or the water running all the time?

Any advise from someone more experienced then me would be greatly appreciated.


Hello LuAnn,

I had a similar issue with my tenants.  One tenant would call and the water company get the total and include the total with her rent. - Great Tenant!

The other tenant - I raised her rent for the amount of her average water bills over a one year period.  I also included an additional clause that required her to pay anything over the amount of her average water bill.  She agreed to it, and she has had to pay me for the extra about 3 times. 

I would put a limit on the amount of all utilities.

Good Luck


A lot of towns might allow you to change the water, sewer, trash etc into the tenants name but they will ultimately hold the owner (you) accountable.  

As long as you have it in your lease so that they are responsible for the payment of them then you should be good.  You can ultimately hold it against their security deposit and evict them over it.

I have sent the bill to my tenants when this happens in the past and they have paid it, but ultimately the buck will stop with me if they don't pay.  But I also like the ideas above, so its really up to you how you want to handle it.

@LuAnn Vigen

We use a separate Utilities Budget Agreement which is attached as a Schedule to the lease.  In this agreement we identify the utilities and services which are in-scope (i.e. electric, water/sewer, gas, snow removal, lawn care, etc) and the amount which the tenants will pre-pay into the utilities fund each month.

The programme works as follows:

1) Tenant pays the agreed-upon amount on or before the first of the month (paid in advance);

2) Utilities remain in our corporate name and we ensure the utility bills are paid on-time.  We also provide the tenant with an electronic copy of the utility bill so they can monitor their resource consumption.

3) Every three months we reconcile the amount paid into the fund against the actual amount paid for utilities & services.   If there is a surplus in the account - tenant has paid in more than they have consumed - we offer the choice of a) leaving the funds in the account in anticipation of larger bills (i.e. winter is coming); b) applying the surplus toward the next month's rent; or c) {at the end of the lease only} refunding the surplus to the tenant.

If there is a deficit - the tenant's resource consumption exceeded their contributions into the fund - the tenant is invoiced and has until the first of the next month to pay the outstanding balance.

Originally we started this offering with our student houses, as I refused to rent with utilities included.  This programme gives the tenants the convenience of a single payee for rent, utilities and services, while still holding them accountable for their resource consumption.  As a landlord we have mitigated the risk of skyrocketing resource consumption which classically accompanies renting with utilities included.

Our town requires garbage to be in the landlords name. I have it be in both mine and the tenants name with the bill going directly to the tenant. I call every couple of months and make sure it's getting paid. The 1 tenant that didn't pay for a few months I had to pay the bill and have them reimburse me. All the rest of my tenants are awesome about it.

I know it doesn't help you with your current lease, but maybe you can now rent at a higher rate with 'everything included.' I do this and I make a couple of extra dollars a. Noth, and with automatic payments it doesn't really affect me,

In SJ CA the utilities can be in the tenants name but we pay garbage. The reason being is at one time after a tenant moved out we found they were not paying and the city put a tax lien on our home. We now just consider it a monthly fixed expense and up the rent accordingly.

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