What difficulties has the City encountered in billing the property's tenant?

Almost all of the problems experienced by City utility billing staff with tenant billed accounts revolve around the fact that the City is not a party to the lease and has no knowledge about its specific terms.

  • The City does not have the ability to identify and track the tenant. The landlord controls the rental relationship, not the City, and can manage the risk inherent in the rental of the property by being selective when choosing a tenant and establishing the lease terms and manner in which rent is collected. Often, the City is not told of a change in tenancy until the new tenant receives the utility bill months later.
  • The landlord controls the lease to which the city is not a party. The landlord can fashion the lease to fit the creditworthiness of the tenant. Landlords have the authority to require a security deposit for the last month's utility charges and to make non-payment of utilities breach of the lease and grounds for eviction. Lease agreements differ in their apportionment of the responsibility for municipal utility payment, particularly at the point where a tenant moves out.
  • Tenant billing involves city staff in disputes over usage. Tenant occupancies do not coincide with City utility billing periods, hence a great deal of staff time is currently devoted to apportioned billing between outgoing and new tenants. This is an additional service, outside our normal billing cycle for which the City has yet to charge a fee.
  • Tenant billing complicates the city's ability to assess. Tenant billing is inconsistent with the City's ultimate collection tool - assessment against the property. It creates an unnecessary legal issue as to proper notice of the delinquency and opportunity to pay prior to the start of the assessment process.

Show All Answers

1. Why are City utilities the responsibility of the property owner, when it is the tenant or occupant using the utilities?
2. Does the City have authority to make me responsible for utilities used by the tenant?
3. What difficulties has the City encountered in billing the property's tenant?
4. Why can't the landlord have the tenant's water shut off?