New law ends landlord-utility feud over unpaid bills

Here’s a beautiful example of how we work behind the scenes for you. For a long time, landlords have been upset that, if tenants leave without paying their water bills, the public water company demands the money from the landlord — and can put a lien on the house.

Doesn’t seem fair, does it?

Of course, the local governments argue that they’re limited by law as to how much of a security deposit they can request from a tenant. They’re getting stuck with the leftover bill, and you can’t really put a lien on some college kid’s 1998 Dodge.

VAR to the rescue.

We lobbied for a bill that found a reasonable compromise: While local governments can still put a lien on a property for a tenant’s unpaid water bill, they are now allowed to require a larger security deposit — one that should cover most outstanding bills.

There’s an article in Lawyers Weekly about this (it’s behind a paywall, so see FAAR’s reprint instead), which is a clue that this isn’t something most people will hear about. But it’s a great example of how our lobbying efforts pay off for members — in this case, landlords and property managers.

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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2 Responses to New law ends landlord-utility feud over unpaid bills

  1. karyn keating-volke says:

    Get this – When the property has a sprinkler system, the water company WON’T turn off the tenant’s water if the bill goes unpaid because then the sprinkler won’t work! We have a tenant who has 3 unpaid water bills!!! Eviction here we come…..

  2. Wallace S. Gibson CPM says:

    Unfortunately, this new regulation is not being applied UNIFORMLY and each water department is charging deposits differently…..

    I have taken the authorization form from our water/sewer authority, scanned as a pdf and e-mail to my property owners for their signature and then I keep the signed form on file and use it for subsequent tenants in their property – just like the lead based paint disclosure.

    BIG problem is that the legislation does not account for REO or government owned properties so getting the “owner” signature is problematic and should be addressed in clean up legislation in 2013 along with the suggestion that deposits be UNIFORM

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