Charging tenants for utilities after they move out?

5 Replies

Hi BP Nation!

We have a furnished short-term rental in Sacramento and since we have a pool/hot-tub, we've included in our lease that we would cover up to $xx on our utilities bill, but over that we would pass the charges on to them. All of our tenants have agreed to that.

But an issue that we ran into for this first time is Northern California's utilities company bills electricity annually because we have solar... After our last tenant's moved out (and had been out for a little over a month) we received a MASSIVE bill showing they went over the limit by about $1,000 all in all during their 6 months at our place.

I'm struggling with how to handle this. Since they've already moved out, i know I won't have leverage. Is it even appropriate to ask our previous tenants to cover at least some of this cost?

It was a lesson learned...

Thanks in advance for any insights!


Hi @Ginny Townsend if you are billed on a NEM or "True Up' annual basis, don't you still receive a monthly statement which breaks out gas and electric charges? If yes, couldn't you still pass the charge on the the tenant as you mentioned in your post/lease?

Hi @Ben Howard . Thanks for the response! 

I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know to look for the True Up charges until this year. I just went by what our monthly bill was. In previous years, our True Up was never more than $50 or so. 

And as far as asking for those fund now with that statement in hand, I’m wondering if this is appropriate to do after they’ve moved out or not. It sounds like you think yes?


You can certainly try to get the former tenants to pay some of it but likely that won’t happen. It’s not worth going to court either.

So that said I’d ask the tenants, if they say no I’d say this is a learning moment to just pay it and move on

If you still had their deposit, you could deduct from that.

If the deposit was returned, you can bill the tenant and hope they are honest enough to pay. LOL! Seriously, give it a try but don't expect anything.

After that, you can decide to go to court or send them to collections and see if you get anything. For $1,000 I would probably let it go and chalk this up to education.