Newbie Landlord Questions

8 Replies

Good morning BP world. I know this may come off as a newbie question but what would the landlord have to pay if tenant(s) pay for utilities?

It mainly depends on your state and sometimes even on the county. I know in my county for the water bill and the trash bill the landlord must pay that; it will be in good sense to do so because a lien could be placed against the property for non-payment. So find out if your county puts liens against your house for non-payment of certain bills, if they do then that's the one YOU want cover. Never leave those kind of bills to a tenant to pay, because you will be in for a rude awakening when the sheriff leaves a note on your property.

Mainly its the water and trash you should cover, gas and electric should be on the tenant. If you don't want to be paying for their use of water, just pay it and send them a bill saying this how much they owe for water.

Another thing you can do is if there is no tenant at the property yet, jack up the price of rent to another $50-$100 to cover the cost of water and trash and tell the potential tenants that it is covered. Being non-the-wiser they will think they got a great deal.

Normal utilities include, water & sewer, gas for heat / cooking, and electricity, trash could also be included,

Cable / internet is not a utlitiy

Is there a website where I can find utilities that I SHOULD put in my name for the Missouri area / Jackson County

Landlord should not pay for any of the utilities - however if you have a utility owned by the city in the state of Missouri, if the tenant does not pay you are going to get stuck with their bill and in the case of Kansas City Missouri water, they will not shut off the water and in most cases will not tell you that they have been sending shut off notices for non-payment to the tenant until the bill gets into the 1000's of dollars, then they send it to collections and sue you.

I would say figure out how you cover water and include it in your rent in KCMO  - the rest of the KC metro is pretty good on utilities.

@Kim Tucker - This may be a silly question, but can't you have the tenant put the water service in their name just like any other utility? 

Sure you can, but in a city where the city owns the utilities.  If the tenant does not pay the water bill, the utility can bill you the landlord - it's a Missouri Law that MissouriPOA is trying to change in 2018.

So with Kansas City Water here's how it works.

Tenant puts water in their name.

Tenant fails to pay the bill.

Water dept sends bill to tenant to pay the bill or they will shut it off

These last 2 steps repeat for a while and then somewhere in the process because it's not paid, the bill reverts to the property owner, but they don't tell the property owner.

Water dept sends bills in the Landlords name to the tenant's address with notice to pay the bill or they will shut it off.

This last step repeats over and over until one of thee things happen.

 - tenant moves out and new tenant wants to turn the water on, then you the property owner must pay the bill so the tenant can get water.

- You sell the house and the new owner goes to turn on water, they get stuck with your bill if they don't find out before close.

- The bill gets large enough to be economically sound to send it to a collection agency and sue you the property owner for the unpaid bill and then place a judgment against the property that must be paid if the property changes ownership.

If you are an investor in Missouri - I urge you to find and join in their monthly virtual meeting this Thursday at 9am - they want to change state law in Missouri regarding this manner and need your help.

@Kim Tucker

Oh wow, that's really good to know. Thanks for this information. I will definitely check out the link if I buy in Missouri.

KS seems more friendlier state in these type of situation. Still there are lot of loop holes there too. The tenant can skip getting his account and ride on the winter program and not pay the bill till they get caught and the pipe freeze and you have no idea if they are paying their bills as the Utility companies don't even share info on the status of the account since it is not yours as a land lord. 

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