Brass Tacks of Managing Rentals
Source: Property Management for Dummies
Tenants are usually not very anxious to begin paying
for utilities so you need to be sure that your procedures verify that
your new tenants immediately contact the utility companies and put the
utilities that are their responsibility in their name. Most
rental property owners have the utilities revert to their name when the
rental unit becomes vacant for turnover and rental showings. So
if your new tenants do not change the utility billing information, you
may end up paying for some of their electric and natural gas
bills. Confirm that the tenants have dealt with the utilities prior to releasing the keys to them.
One way to avoid paying for the tenant’s utilities is to immediately contact the utility company as part of your tenant orientation meeting. The new tenant can then establish the utilities in their name.
With the high cost of utilities, you need to make sure that you and
your tenants are on the same page when it comes to who is financially
responsible for the rental unit’s utilities. In
many states, rental property owners are required to disclose if the
tenant is financially responsible for payment of any utility services
outside of their rental unit. For example: exterior common
area lighting may be connected to the rental unit, or a common area
natural gas barbeque may be connected to the gas meter of the
tenant. Besides disclosing this fact, rental property owners are
required in many states to give the tenant an appropriate rent credit
for the common area utilities paid by them. Check the laws in
your area and be sure to disclose this kind of information if required.