What happens if I don’t pay my utilities?

By Tenant

So I’ve been having all these problems with my landlord and I thought I would just stop paying the utility bill. I thought that such an action would finally force my landlord to act on the complaints I have sent him in a letter. Well, apparently, I cannot just stop paying the utilities. Do you want to know why?  Because I forgot that I had the utility bills under my name.  Was a know if I stop paying the bills, I would get in trouble – not my landlord. It seems that it works like that in my state.

Basically, this is how utility payments work when you’re a renter:

  • The landlord will transfer the utility bills under your name.  So that would include and that is electricity, water, and gas and in some states, that would include trash collection too.
  • Every month you will get utility bills in your address.  It is your responsibility to pay these bills on or before their due date.  You cannot deduct them from your rent because these are entirely different.
  • If you decide to move out, the utilities will be transferred back to your landlord’s name.

Here are some additional things that you need to know about utilities and you:

  1. Your landlord has to request for the transfer of the utilities to your name, with your consent.
  2. The condition of transfer must be clearly outlined in the lease agreement that you have signed.  If it is not clear to you, you must seek clarification on from your landlord.
  3. If the utilities are transferred to your name in you do not pay for them, the utility company may come after you.  Even if you move to another address, the utility company will still try to collect their money.
  4. In some states, the landlord will still hold responsibility if the tenant refuses to pay the bills.
  5. If you don’t pay and the landlord is not obliged to pay in your behalf, cutting the services will be the discretion of the utility company, and not the landlord’s.

Now if you want to get even if your landlord, was not in very good to you, I would suggest that you come up with more creative ways.  For instance, instead of ruining my reputation and good credit by not paying the utility bills under my name, I filed a formal complaint against my landlord.  And because he did not respond, a negative public image was released and indexed by all search engines and that was the end of his “good” landlord reputation. Here’s the link I used, by the way, http://www.rentalprotectionagency.com/complaint_center.php

Edited on: Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 1:21 pm

10 Responses to “What happens if I don’t pay my utilities?”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


February 6th, 2013 11:40 pm

I’ve never really understood how these things work. I’ve been a tenant for most of my life but I never encountered having the utility bills under my name – well, I’ve lived in only two apartments so far. Our setup was that the utilities will already be included in our rent and that was that. If someone doesn’t pay on time, then the landlord would have to shell out the money from his pocket. Yeah, that’s what I thought so: Poor Landlord.


February 7th, 2013 1:20 am

Great info. Thank you!


February 7th, 2013 3:00 am

I live in Florida and I’m a landlord. I also include in the lease agreement that the utility bills are to be transferred to the tenant’s name.But when the tenant’s don’t pay the bills, the utility company will not do anything unless the security deposit runs out. Lucky for my tenant’s the FL utility companies are not allowed to cut off services during the summer.


February 7th, 2013 4:40 am

Again, it depends on the state that you’re in. In some states, the final responsibility lies on the tenants but in most other cities, the final responsibility would still lie on the landlord. So if the tenant doesn’t pay, the landlord could be liened.


February 7th, 2013 6:20 am

A landlord always has the option for this. He can tell the tenant it’s his responsibility to pay for the utilities or he can just add the cost of the utilities to the monthly rent. As a landlord, I would always prefer the earlier option. I know in my state the tenant will be responsible for all the utilities and if they don’t pay, the landlord won’t get dragged into all this mess. BTW, I made that decision backed with the knowledge of my state laws and guidelines.


February 7th, 2013 8:00 am

I usually receive notices from my utility company saying that my tenant is late on his utility payment. The letter is quite threatening because it tells me that if my tenant does not pay, my property will be liened against the outstanding balance. Yes, it’s unfair but since it’s the utility company and my property is at stake, I do everything that I can to force the tenant to pay up.


February 7th, 2013 9:40 am

I learned that the landlord cannot just disconnect the services because that’s against the law. It’s either he place the utilities under his ow name or have a tenant place it under his/her own name. The utilites cannot be placed under the name of a third party, though.


February 7th, 2013 11:20 am

Even if a tenant has already moved out, the utility companies would still bother landlord’s as they will be calling to ask for forwarding addresses, additional contact information and so on. Well, if the tenant does not owe you anything, you probably wouldn’t note where the new address is so you might not be of excellent help to your utility company.


February 7th, 2013 1:00 pm

You know what? If you’re confused, call your utility company directly and ask them questions. Your landlord is the expert when it comes to your apartment complex but the utility companies are the best people to talk to when it comes to concerns on your utility bills.


February 7th, 2013 2:40 pm

If we moved into a house and then the electricity was cut, do we have to pay the utility company even if it was’t our debt?


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