WATER BILL that tenant never paid

10 Replies

Hello ALL

Ive had a tenant that hasnt paid her water bill since february of last year.  she is no longer living there for the last 3 months. The city sent me a bill to pay the water bill for a few hundred bucks which shocked me because i was never aware she wasnt paying her water bill. I use a property management and they would take care of the place since im over 2 hours away. Theyve been great but my question is..whos fault is this and can i do anything about it by not paying this? I wouldve loved to get aware of the fact that she wasnt paying her bill at least the first 1 or 2 months delinqeunt that way it wouldnt add up to so much. 

Has anyone else dealt with this? like i said there is a new tenant now since novermber and thats fine but the preivous tenant that never paid her water bill... now falls on me.  

Any tips or info what i can do would be great. I appreciate it. 

Thanks

Unlike a cable bill, the water bill can usually be attached to the house via a lien.   In other words, you are probably going to end up paying the bill unless you can somehow get the tenant to pay.

If a tenant leaves, you should be able to verify the bill status BEFORE refunding any unused security deposit.  That will protect you going forward.

Originally posted by @Greg Scott :

Unlike a cable bill, the water bill can usually be attached to the house via a lien.   In other words, you are probably going to end up paying the bill unless you can somehow get the tenant to pay.

If a tenant leaves, you should be able to verify the bill status BEFORE refunding any unused security deposit.  That will protect you going forward.

 Maybe in some states but not in PA and NJ to the best of my knowledge 

If you’re only at a couple hundred bucks in a year of water you should consider yourself lucky. I was just in a similar situation where I had 200 for water and another 200 for sewer but that’s only in 4 months. It’ll come out of the tenants security deposit if they don’t pay tho

Thank you @Greg Scott

I did call water co in both states and they said if Tenants do not pay they do not make owner liable. 

I think if Township or Boro supply the water then they put the liens. 

Originally posted by @Greg Scott :

@Sai T.

Looks like an unpaid water bill turns into a property Lien in New Jersey:  http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2016/Bills/S1500/1367...

And in Pennsylvania:  http://www.nochumson.com/articles/commonwealth-cou...

In PA, it depends on who is the water supplier. If the water supplier is the municipality itself, then a lien will remain on the property for any unpaid water bills, whether tenant was supposed to pay or not. But there are some third party water suppliers (AQUA and PA American Water for example), and if tenant has the water bill in tenant's name with these suppliers then there will not be a lien for unpaid water bills.

Some landlords use different approaches when unpaid water bills can become a lien. Some keep the water in landlord's name and build it into the rent based on historic usage, and hope that water consumption is not too excessive over the historic usage. Some keep it in landlord's name but bill tenant for it each month (the tenant will want to see the bills probably). One landlord I know who keeps the water bill in his name has developed his own system that trains the tenant on how to read the water meter, and to take the reading to compute how much to include with the rent for the water bill; it gets close enough so that he has not fronted the water payment for a tenant who decides to skip town.

If you have the tenant get the water bill where unpaid water bills become a lien, you will want to have some way of tracking that the tenant is paying the bill.

To help prevent it from happening again you can ask the water company to send you a copy of the water bills.  

I do this with my rental in Levittown, PA so I know if the tenant gets behind on the water bill.  In my area the local municipality supplies the water and said landlord is liable if the tenant does not pay.

Thank you all. I will you the tips and info given. Last question.. since i do have a property mgr..was it their responsibility to tell me about water bill not being paid?  i found out just recently from NJ water that i owe a huge bill..  and they told me tenant hasnt been paying since february last year.  that tenant got evicted ..courts and everything came thru but now i guess i will have to pay the bill. What can i tell my property manager at this point since ive gotten a new tenant since since december. Thanks

I have properties in both situations. If I am responsible for the water and sewer bill, I add a seperate water deposit in the lease. I pay the water bill and send to the tenant who must pay with the next rental payment. Failure to pay subjects the tenant to legal recourse just like the rent. 

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