Renter owes for 1 month water

2 Replies


I am a new landlord and I'm not sure how to deal with this situation.

I have renters who started their lease a couple months ago. According to their lease, they pay all utilities.  They set up all their own accounts properly except they forgot water/sewage/trash (all one bill). I didn't verify that my accounts had been deactivated like I should have, so I got a bill for water about a month and a half into their occupancy.

We let them know about the mistake, they were happy to switch it over.  We also delivered an invoice along with a copy of the water bill for the $55 of usage that I paid for and told them they could remit payment with their following month's rent (1 week later).

Rent came this month and they didn't include it.  We contacted them to ask why and they said they paid the water company directly and just added it to their water bill.  We told them they had made another mistake, they have to pay us for the water and they'll have a credit with the water company.

These 3 girls are in a new roommate situation.  They're young and seem pretty inexperienced.  I understand things can be confusing in a new situation.  What can I do to encourage them to get their (expletive) together?  Also - should I charge a late fee on the water reimbursement?  Or just keep bugging them about it?  I don't really have a clause for that in the lease since they're responsible for their own utilities.  I guess I could ultimately just take the reimbursement out of their security deposit if they don't pay.  Rent is $1200/mo.  A $55 mistake isn't worth an eviction to me.

A funny anecdote about these renters - a couple weeks after they moved in, one of the girls called because her car was "stuck" in the garage. Another one of the other roommates had already left for work and took the one garage remote and now she couldn't get her car out of the garage. We explained to her there was a button on the wall to open the garage door and she didn't need a remote to get out.  She was completely overwhelmed and couldn't understand how she could open the garage door with the button on the wall, move her car out of the garage and then close the garage door using the wall-button again once the car was out of the garage and then exit the house through another door.  We could tell she was extremely stressed out, so we went to the property and helped her open the garage door.    (face palm emoji)

Thank you BP!  I'm also closing escrow on my 2nd duplex tomorrow!  Couldn't have done it without you.


@Gabriel H.

Ask them for proof of payment to the water company to call their bluff. And I would insist on them paying the bill, not necessary to force eviction but keep bringing it up or set a deadline with late fees. 

If you let your tenants start walking all over you now, they are going to take advantage of it. 

With that rent I'm assuming the money isn't a hardship, it is just them getting their stuff together.

You should be firm, but I wouldn't stress about it and I'd let it play out for a few weeks.  It's not enough money to be jerky about,  give them the benefit of the doubt.  They are giving you entertaining party stories.

I wouldn't charge them a late fee, but be firm on any late rent.

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