determining utility usage for a tenant

4 Replies

Hello,

I have a tenant who still hasn't put the electricity in her name, and waited two weeks after she moved in to put the gas in her name. It was a rookie mistake that I allowed her to move in while the utilities were on and in my name, I know.

I am in Chicago - ComEd cannot determine usage by day - or so I was told in a phone call. I am reluctant to divide the utility bill for that cycle up equally by day, and then charge her for the days she has been present, as the tenant may say that this calculation doesn't reflect her actual usage. 


In her lease it says she must put all the utilities in her name, and obviously she hasn't yet. My lease only states that I can include the utilities in the rent, no penalty or service fee. I will have to tighten up that portion of the lease as well. 

@Jay Garrison , in our area we can get the average monthly costs for each utility during the last year.  See if you can get that, divide that by 30 and multiply by the number of days the tenant cheated on you.  Next time, cut off your account on the start of the lease date (unless it's during the winter).  And make sure they have proper account numbers you can check at lease signing.

I believe you can have the utilities taken OUT of your name, and provide the name/number of the tenant to ComEd.

Originally posted by @Jay Garrison:

Hello,

I have a tenant who still hasn't put the electricity in her name, and waited two weeks after she moved in to put the gas in her name. It was a rookie mistake that I allowed her to move in while the utilities were on and in my name, I know.

I am in Chicago - ComEd cannot determine usage by day - or so I was told in a phone call. I am reluctant to divide the utility bill for that cycle up equally by day, and then charge her for the days she has been present, as the tenant may say that this calculation doesn't reflect her actual usage. 


In her lease it says she must put all the utilities in her name, and obviously she hasn't yet. My lease only states that I can include the utilities in the rent, no penalty or service fee. I will have to tighten up that portion of the lease as well. 


Your algorithm would favor the tenant so they should not complain. Their occupancy utilities would be averaged with non occupancy utilities. So while it does not reflect her actual usage, it likely represents less than her actual usage. She should have transferred the utilities. You should have caught it. This is an easy way to correct it that likely results in you paying a little more for the utilities than you would have which you can consider the cost of the lesson learned. I think everyone comes out fine. It requires very little effort on your behalf, tenant is likely getting charged slightly less than appropriate, LL (you) are likely getting charged slightly more than appropriate but being very fair to tenant and learning a lesson. Everyone is coming out fine.

Good luck

@Jay Garrison If she has not moved them into her name I would serve her a 10 day notice to resolve the issue.  Then I would simply prorate it like you said you were advised to do and add to her ledger.  You can get technical and take the previous month as a vacant unit and figure the vacant day value vs the occupied day value with usage but probably not worth your time and the tenant would probably not grasp it.  

Three things before keys given but I think you know this now.

1. Utility numbers (you should learn the prefixes of the local utility companies to know if they are fake).  Peoples gas and Comed do have landlord portals too that you can set your meters up to revert back to the landlord if service is ever canceled or not paid.  This is important for homes with sump pumps and move outs in the winter.  Not sure the minimum landlord size but it is a valuable service for our management division.  

2. Renters insurance that includes liability (their stuff is less important to cover to us then we want some coverage if something goes wrong but their stuff being covered gives us pushback when something happens and they ask for their stuff to be paid for)

3. All funds certified ( no checks or CCs)