Lancaster County PA Realty Check: Landlords - Prevent Water Bill Surprises!

Landlords - Prevent Water Bill Surprises!

 In a post today, "QuiQui" Lopez writes about a landlord who found that a tenant had left owing a huge water bill!  In Pennsylvania, water companies can put a lien on a property if the water bill is not paid.  This means that the building cannot be sold without the lien being cleared by the owner.

There are some solutions for landlords, to prevent such a situation from arising:

1)  Consider writing the lease so that the water bill is sent directly to the landlord, who pays it to the water company.  Then the landlord resubmits the bill to the tenant, who compensates the landlord for the tenant's own water use.  This way the landlord is assured that even if the tenant doesn't compensate the landlord for the water bill, the bill is nevertheless paid current.

2)  Alternatively, the landlord can set up an automatic notification system with the water company to let the landlord know if the tenant is past due on their water bill.  If the landlord then receives a notification of a past due bill, he or she can follow up with the tenant before the total bill gets out of hand.

3)  The lease should specify that being past due on the water bill constitutes a breach of the lease, which can result in eviction.

4)  Obviously, a thorough credit check of all applicants should be made before accepting any tenant, with particular emphasis on their method of payment of previous rent and utilities.

By being aware of such potential problems before they occur, much expense and aggravation can be avoided. 

If you would like more information on how a qualified REALTOR with Lancaster County property management experience can help investors save money and reduce their risk, please call (717) 951-5552 or email brian@FindLancasterHomes.com .

©BrianSchulman2008

Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA.  To learn more, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/

 

 

Brian Schulman offers expert real estate representation for buyers and sellers of homes in Lancaster County, PA.  To learn more, visit http://www.FindLancasterHomes.com/

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Comment balloon 4 commentsBrian Schulman • February 06 2008 09:54AM

Comments

Brian, this is good information for Landlords to know.  It happened to my husband and I when we were leasing a large commercial property to a tenant.  He decided to stop paying the sewer bill -- and we didn't find out about it until there was a judgement against the property.  What a mess!  Needless to say, we starting having the bill come directly to us after that to make sure it was paid in a timely manner. 

Posted by Jeannie Kontis over 10 years ago
Jeannie, it only takes once for a landlord to be burned, for them to become aware of these potential problems.  It's not that uncommon for tenants to do this if they're in financial straits or if they're getting ready to leave without telling the landlord.  Forewarned is forearmed.  I hope this post saves some investors from a future hassle.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago
Good advice. But sometimes it may be better to take  a chance and have the service transferred to tenant's name ( if the township allows) knowing that if it is not paid it can be a lien on the property. I once had tenants who did not pay the rent but they paid the water bill because they got notice  that it would be shut off. But you should call to make sure the bill is paid and ask if they can send you a copy.
Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 10 years ago
Gita, my leases specify that non-payment of either the rent of the water (as long as the water is separately metered) is a breach of the lease.
Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 10 years ago

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