I have a unit where during COVID the gas was shut off to save money while it was not being rented out.
We now have new tenants and after they got their first bill they saw a service activation fee for $40 on the bill. They are requesting that I pay for the $40 fee on the bill.
I was under the impression even if it’s a new connection the tenant is still responsible for the bill.
The unit is in Chicago Illinois.
What does your lease say?
@Jay Berts - Personally I would assume it's on you the landlord, assuming you are the one who shut the gas off. Otherwise, typically there is no activation fee so why would a tenant expect to pay that. Valid question by @Justin Robert if the lease talks about utility activation fees that would trump everything, but I highly doubt that's included.
You could always try calling peoples gas and ask them to refund the fee and it was due to COVID. In Chicago, I've found peoples somewhat easy to work with, surprising
I would make the tenant pay it. contrary to what Jonathan said, I'm used to seeing utilities charge a connection fee, service establishment fee, et. even if I had the utilities on when the tenant moved in. It's standard practice around here, especially with the gas company.
I would call the company, if activation is charged for any new account regardless explain that to the tenant. If it isn't then I think you could go either way but I would think that it is a not unreasonable to ask them to pay. If it was water I would pay but gas companies often they need to check before restarting.
I am sure they moved in to the home assuming the gas was hooked up and in working order. I don't see this as some sort of bonus you would offer your tenants. Pay the fee and have a happy tenant. Beating them up over $40 isn't a great start to a professional relationship.
The gas company in my market has the same fee- we have a landlord agreement with them where every time someone moves out, service is automatically transferred to my property management company and then the tenants have 1 business day to switch it back when they move in. When it is done that way, there is no fee.
If the gas was on in owner's name, there would still be a transfer fee to put in tenant's name. So, same would go for activation fee.