I own a property located in Baltimore City, Maryland. My nephew moved into my house and had the utility bills registered in his name. However, my nephew did not pay his monthly utility bill. After more than two years time, decided to moved out and to date, has not paid his outstanding utility bill. My brother recently moved into the house and the utility was still operational. With a rental agreement in hand, my brother attempted to get the utility registered in his name. The utility company refused stating an outstanding balance of $3654.93 is due and stating the property owner is responsible for the outstanding balance before a new acct can be made. The utility company recently disconnected the utilities due to non payment. Who is responsible for the unpaid of $3654.93 utility bill?
I am not licensed in MD and the answer to your question likely varies by state. In my state, however, the answer would be yes, the property owner is generally responsible for unpaid utilities. The property owner is then left to pursue the tenant for reimbursement of amounts paid on tenant's behalf (assuming the lease calls for the tenant to pay for the utilities in question). Due to the amount outstanding, I would suggest consulting with a real estate attorney in the state where the property is located to make sure you are responsible for the delinquency and to see if there are any other options available (i.e. settlement for less than the total due, payment plan, etc). Good luck.
I am licensed in the State of Ohio, posting a response to your question or issue does not create an attorney-client relationship and I AM NOT providing you legal advice. You should speak with an attorney who is licensed in your state to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights--or rights to recovery of damages.
You should not be responsible for your tenant's electric bill contracted solely in your tenant's name. You may be able to file a complaint with the Maryland Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in Maryland, web site here:
You had also better make sure the city water bill has been paid, otherwise Baltimore City will auction your house for the unpaid water bill, and you could lose the house completely. That won't happen with BG&E's unpaid electric bill, but obviously, they have you over a barrel. You need to sue your nephew, and make sure your brother pays all the utilities going forward. Is the nephew who didn't pay also your brother's son that is moving into the home? He ought to rectify his son's malfeasance to you, if only on family moral and ethical grounds.
Generally you should not be responsible for the gas/electric (BGE) bill. This is not a lienable item. Only water, sewage and property taxes are lienable and responsibility of the property owner. That said, the problem here is that you may be required to obtain a proper permit to rent your home and obtain a certificate of compliance and a lead paint inspection. Without these, you may be forced to pay the BGE bill and then sue your nephew.
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