Electric shutoff for non-payment how to get tenants to move out

12 Replies

Rental property in Evans, CO.  Longtime tenants, husband was ill for several years before passing away a year and half ago.  Just found out via Xcel disconnecting electricity, that they had ran up a 'huge' utility bill (thousands of dollars).  Wife claims she doesn't owe it because utilities were in husbands name and she has only been paying $200 per month. Insane that this can happen.  Wife, children, and grandchildren are now in Denver because there is no heat or lights.  Rent was paid by Housing Authority.  Xcel will not put utilities in my name as landlord until house is vacated of all belongings.  Tenant told me today she has 30days from the end of the month to move things because Housing Authority said if they moved they needed to give 30day notice.  Non-payment of utilities is a violation of the lease.  Do I post the 3day Notice To Comply and mail via certified mail (which they will not get because they are not living there) and then file with the court for eviction? 

@Ann Wood did they pay in February? They have abandoned the house. I would post a 24hr inspection notice and a 3day. She can’t store her stuff there and live somewhere else. If she didn’t give them a 30day then you will get another check. Looks like they are moving out. Take the check and leave the electric off since the electric company won’t let you do anything. If you won’t get a check, I would tell them you will evict through the court and that will cause them to lose their assistance. This usually speeds things up. Learn from the experience.

Thanks Robert. When I talked with Housing Authority today, she said they would lose their assistance because of the utilities so I don't expect to get March rent. Is my option the 3day and file the eviction through the court? And yes, I am learning a lot!

@Ann Wood since you’ve already contacted housing authority, I would contact them again. Ask if you will be getting a check for March. If not ask what you’re options are. They may be slightly different with housing authority involved, but it shouldn’t be hard to reclaim your property.

Call these guys:  https://www.thslawfirm.com/.  They are the go-to folk for evictions here.  They can get you straightened out and the situation resolved as quickly as possible.  Should take less than a month and cost perhaps $500 +/-.  It will be money well spent vs. trying to navigate this path by yourself.  No relation other than as a satisfied customer.

Go there and winterize the house , shut off the water at the street , of if its a well its already no water .  drain down the water and put rv antifreeze in all the traps and drains 

Is it legal for me to shut the water off?  The lady at Housing Authority said I needed to get her a copy when I did the three day notice.  I will call her again Monday.  The cost for legal help is relatively cheap and I have used an attorney in the past for an eviction; however, it is something I do not have currently.  Due to the downturn and upturn of real estate I am equity rich but cash poor.  My current job does not qualify me to refi so if I can get this done without an attorney it would be great!  In reading through the "How To Evict A Tenant", it talks about the month to month lease.  If it is not renewed at the end of this month, can I just give them so many days to vacate?  Does it have to be 30? My other question is they are not living there and I do not have an address to have them served.  How does all that work? Thank all of you for replying to my post!

You know they are in Denver who told you that? get that person to give you the address. or who is the relative they are staying with in denver? A lawyer would be advisable to ask on the water, I am sure it will be freezing in CO before the end of winter. If there is no heat you want to avoid damages which will cost,probably more then a lawyer.

@Ann Wood so a couple thoughts. 1) contact the law firm @Jon Holdman recommended. It will cost money but nothing compared to doing this wrong. 2) No money for an attorney is a tough place to be. Doesn't sound like you will be getting money for rent either. How does Xcel know the tenant's stuff is still there? At any rate you need to move quickly to protect your investment. If you don't winterize or get the heat back on, the property will freeze and you will be selling for significantly less equity. Eviction won't be fast enough to protect your property from freezing. Personally, I would do what it takes to get the utilities back on even if it means paying all of the back utility bills from Xcel (perhaps can't afford this if you can't afford an attorney). The truth is the tenants have vacated the property (they have told you they are not living there). If Xcel asks about the tenant's stuff, tell them it is abandoned and you are just waiting for the 30 days required by Colorado law to prove abandonment. In the mean time, move toward eviction. Generally the process is post notice to quit for significant lease violation (mailing is not required in Colorado). After the fourth full day file for eviction in the local court. Hire a process server to post the eviction papers. At least 7 days later you will get a court date. Presumably they will not show and you will win by default. Roughly two days later the court will issue a writ. Once the writ is issued you can call the sheriff and schedule the set out. This is usually 2 weeks after the writ. You should have possession of your property back sometime around mid March. 

If you can't afford to pay the back utilities to protect your property you need to call a cash buyer and sell your property before it freezes. As a cash buyer I would want a discount but I would also have the money to bring the utilities current and keep the property from freezing. It's worth more to everyone before it freezes. Personally I would find some way to raise the cash (sell a car or other stuff) to at least pay the utilities and hire an attorney as that is the path of least cost in the grand scheme of things.

The Housing Authority will not be of use to you the people have given up on staying in the program. The HA will just use your notice to boot them out. 

Finally, let us know what you do and how all this works out.

I would just call the electric company and tell them the tenant is gone and the house needs to be prepped for the next tenant including trashing the stuff inside.  I might go and close the blinds and curtains before I told them that.

I would keep calling until someone there turned on the power.

I have never known Xcel to want to physically inspect the interior of a property and try to determine who is occupying it... Just tell them the tenant is gone. Others offered some very good technical and legally correct advice. Myself, I tend to go a little "cowgirl" in these situations. These people are too stupid to protect their Housing Authority voucher. I'd change the locks today and get my house winterized. Call it a constructive eviction. If they cry foul then tell them to sue you. Most will just slink away at that point. Give them one shot at scheduling a time for them to remove belongings. If they fail to show up - their loss.  If they truly push with legal claims you can always back off. 

@Ann Wood I would post a 24hr notice to inspect. This is legal in Colorado and is the requirement. Then when you go inside, use RV antifreeze. Pour down all the drains and fill toilets and drain back of toilets by flushing it. Put some in the back of the toilet too. This will help save you a lot of money if plumbing problems aren’t on your insurance.

Thanks for all the suggestions.  I did contact Housing Authority again and I will not be getting rent for March, which I  figured.  The tenants also had a meeting with HA and are walking a different tune now.  I did call and ask to go in to winterize and turn water off in the basement which they approved.  Hopefully I am okay since I did not post the 24hr notice but they did say it was okay.  I let them know afterwards that I put the RV stuff down drains and toilets. Since they have been really long time tenants and are talking with me, I am going to go with the Cash For Keys idea.

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