Unpaid Utilities

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When a landlord owns property, the utility bills are in his name until tenant sign a lease agreement and rent the property. (Utility bills are generally the electricity, natural gas, and the water/sewer/trash collection). At that time, the lease agreement usually specifies that the utilities must be switched over into tenant’s name by a certain date. Once that switch is made, the tenant assume the payments for those utilities.

Shared utility meters for a property, the landlord must by law to show tenant how he/she will divide the utility bill. Tenant are then responsible for paying the landlord that monthly utility portion.

If the lease agreement requires the tenant to pay the landlord for the utilities because of shared meters, the law allows the landlord some flexibility in collecting the utility payment from tenant. If tenant does not make the utility payment, the landlord can serve the tenant with a three-day notice to comply with the terms of the lease -- paying the shared utility bill -- or leave the rental property. If tenant does not make the payment, the landlord can start legal proceedings to collect any money owed, including unpaid rent, unpaid utilities and the cost of any damages that exceed the security deposit. This means that the landlord will either ask for money as part of the eviction judgment if tenant stay, or he/she will file a lawsuit in small claims court to recover any money owed.

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