Tenant has not paid rent/water bill in over 8 mo's. Am I liable for water bill payments even though he agreed to pay at signing?

Asked over 3 years ago - Philadelphia, PA

Tenant has not paid rent/water bill for over 8 mo. I am in the process for applying my rental license to evict this tenant . I have been making both mortgage payments attached to this property but not the water bill payments. We agreed at signing he would make seperate payments . So I let the bills continue to be mailed over to the rental house. I recently found out about their delinquency on the water bill by having the water dept. mail me the bills to my house because common sense told me if they were not paying their rent , they were not paying their water bill . As of today the water dept. shut off the water . I just finished making 3 mortgage payments plus my personal utilities . Should I cut my arm off to pay this water bill if I intend on evicting them soon ? Or am I in the right ?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Darrell Charles Dethlefs

    Contributor Level 7

    1

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . I agree that payment of the utilities is generally subject to negotiation and should be provided for in the lease. However, many municipalities in Pennsylvania will not bill a tenant for the water/sewer bill. These municipalities have taken the position that the water/sewer bill is always the responsibility of the landlord. The landlord can pass the charge along. But the landlord is ultimately responsible. Good Luck.

  2. Arik Tzvi Ben-Ari

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . Agreed, I think you need to pay them to avoid a lien on the property and then sue the tenant for breach of contract.

    Nothing in this question or answer shall let any person or use (including the person who asked the question) the... more
  3. Morgan Jay Seegmiller

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . Keep in mind that I do not practice in PA. To the extent there are different laws in PA, my answer may not reflect the proper advise.

    Generally, liability to pay a water bill is a contract issue. In other words, whoever is signed up on the account is liable to pay the bill. If your name is on the water service account and you simply allowed the tenant to pay it, you may have a problem. Likewise, if both your names are on the account, you may also have a problem. If, however, your tenant opened a new account with the water provider and you cancelled your previous service, the debt will likely follow the tenant and you will be able to re-establish service with the water provider through a new account in your name. This is common practice for landlords in Arizona.

    If your name is on the current account, the water provider may not provide water to any account with your name on it until either you or the tenant pays the bill. Of course, if you have to pay the bill, you should add that to the amount the tenant owes you when you obtain a judgment on him/her. You may or may not ever see that money again depending on how successful you are in collecting on your judgment.

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