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Home · Property Management · Latest News : Landlord Ordered to Pay Tenant’s $19,000 Water Bill
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According to a news report out of Atlanta this week, a landlord was slapped with a former tenant’s $19,000 water bill and threatened with a property lien if she doesn’t pay up.

The reporter’s investigation revealed that, while the city claims the property owner ultimately is responsible for the bill, they did nothing to shut down the account once it became delinquent. Instead, they continued to supply the tenant, as the outstanding balance grew enormous.

It is not clear whether the landlord can appeal the decision, but it is possible the only recourse will be to attempt to collect reimbursement from the tenant.

In fact, there is little landlords in a similar situation can do to avoid such losses. This case makes it clear that landlords should speak with the utility when the tenant moves in and demand to be notified should the account go into default. Also, landlords should check outstanding utility balances on exiting tenants before returning a security deposit, and hold on to the tenant’s forwarding address.

With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our new Landlord Forms Page.

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    Another example of government arrogance. Why wasn’t the water turned off as the bill grew more delinquent? In cases involving the electric bill, they are right on the spot if the tenant isn’t paying the electric bill. The electric utility also goes after the user, not the property owner.

    The difference? Water is government while electric is private.

  • Nancy Mitchell

    First off, you are not allowed to turn off a tenants utilities. You would think the water company would notify the owner…but they don’t always pay attention. I have three different account numbers with the electric company, not sure which one is mine, but I get stuck with the end bills.
    They send the bills to the rental, so I don’t get them until way late. I keep calling them to try to get them to send the bills to my address. They don’t pay attention.

    On the other hand, in California you must return the tenant’s deposit in 21 days…so if you are not notified by the utility company in a timely manner, you are stuck again.

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