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arm wrestlingPittsburg’s City Council has decided to postpone a proposed rule that would require landlords to pay for a tenant’s delinquent water bill.

After a barrage of protests, including personal appearances at the council meetings, phone calls, emails and letters, City Council has decided to reconsider the measure to all allow the city-owned utility to place a lien on a rental property if a tenant doesn’t pay the water bill.

According to a news report, such dissent shown at city council meetings is rare.

A city official explained that the plan was to have landlords transfer the accounts into their names after the tenant moves out, triggering the right to lien the property for nonpayment. Landlords would ultimately be responsible for payment if collection against the tenant fails.

Several landlords reacted with outrage, according to the report, calling the measure arbitrary and  punitive.

One argued that the city doesn’t take responsibility for collecting rent when  tenants don’t pay, so landlords should not have to collect water bills for the city.

Further discussions are planned before the measure comes back up in November. One option under consideration is to require deposits from tenants before they set up an account for water.

However, not all city officials are sympathetic to the landlords. One described their complaints as “overly dramatic.”

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  • gary

    Cape Coral, Florida is famous for this. I foreclosed on a house there. The outstanding water bill was $700. The City had shut the occupant’s water off, but at some time the users had managed to turn the street valve on again. Of course, nobody at the City was alert at the wheel and the water was allowed to flow unabated.

    The City doesn’t waste any time monitoring such situations since the bill goes to the property, not the user – thus the City knows it can always exercise a lien at anytime they happen to get around to it.

    Electric service, on the other hand, is assessed against the USER – Not the PROPERTY. This is the way it should be.

    Good for the landlords in Pittsburgh! If we all stood up more frequently, perhaps we wouldn’t always get the short end of the stick. And what a revolutionary new idea the Council finally came up with – actually getting a deposit from the users!!

  • Bill

    In Englewood, CO it has always been this way, the water bill is assessed against the property, if the tenant doesn’t pay, the owner of the property pays or the water is shut off. I never transfer the water to my tenants, and I charge a monthly fee to cover the bill.

  • R & J

    Denver, Colorado
    This article was very timely. I recently had to pay a water bill ($350.00) because tenant insisted I was at fault for not taking care of the problem. My husband and I try very hard to address every concern our tenants brings to us. Our tenants decided to not pay their bill and it became delinquent and late fees racked up. If I had not been diligent about delinquent payment by the tenants on their account I would not have known that they were not paying their bill and the water company would probably would not have worked with me.

    I believe that the tenants should be responsible for their water bill. Also, just a word of advice to all landlords, keep very good records.

  • Jason

    I live in Colorado and used to live in Jersey. In both states, water bills are always attached to the property, no matter who live there or who owns it. For many “seasoned” renters, they know the loophole and stop paying water bill four months before the end of lease because water authority does not shut off water until 90-day delinquent. How to deal with this? I don’t know if there is a good way other than stating in the lease that the tenant is responsible for reimbursements of water bills that the landlord paid. It is pain in the neck to send an invoice to collect water bills every month.

  • Ajaipaul Ram

    Wow that is a ridiculous law. How can the landlord be charged for this. There is a huge assumption that all landlords are filthy rich and they can afford any bill that they are given.

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