Who Handles Utilities?

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Who Turns On and Pays for Utilities?
When looking for an apartment, ask landlords how the utilities are paid. Utilities are managed in different ways for different apartments. Some landlords won't pay for utilities at all. Others will pay for some or all utilities. Sometimes the landlord turns on the utilities and pays the utility companies, but bills the tenant for that payment. Sometimes the tenant must turn on the utilities and pay bills directly to the utility company. Read below for more information on each situation.

LANDLORD PAYS FOR SOME OR ALL UTILITIES:

In this situation, the tenant does not have to worry about turning on the utilities or paying bills for the utilities that the landlord is paying. If you have moved into an apartment and the landlord has not turned on your utilities, or a utility has been shut off, contact your landlord right away and ask him/her politely to take care of the situation. If the landlord still does not turn on your utilities, you may need to take further action (see the Essential Services).

TENANT PAYS FOR ONE OR MORE UTILITIES, BUT UTILITY CO. BILLS LANDLORD AND S/HE BILLS TENANT:

In this situation, usually the rental unit does not have a separate meter from one or more other rental units in the same house or building. The landlord must receive a bill for all of these apartments at once and divide it up on his/her own. If the landlord must bill you for utilities in place of a utility company, make sure you ask your landlord how the utilities are divided up. (For example, a landlord may take the number of square feet of each rental unit and transfer those numbers into percentages. Then s/he will divide the utility bill based on those percentages.)

AS A TENANT, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK FOR A COPY OF ANY AND ALL UTILITY BILLS THAT YOUR LANDLORD IS BILLING YOU FOR AND AN EXPLANATION OF HOW THE BILL IS DIVIDED UP.

TENANT IS BILLED DIRECTLY BY UTILITIES CO.:

If you are paying for utilities on your own, then you need to contact local utility companies to get them turned on. You will be billed about once a month for the utilities used in the preceding month. Remember, you need only to worry about the utilities that your landlord is not paying for.

INFORMATION ABOUT ELECTRICITY / GAS UTILITIES:

If you are paying for electricity and/or gas utilities, then there are a few things you should know. Different rental units have different ways of being heated/cooled and of heating the stove/oven. Older rental units use most or all gas while new units use most or all electricity. Gas is much more expensive than electricity. Once you find out how your apartment is heated and cooled, you will know which utility company to go to (Gas or Electric or both).

Air-conditioning

Some rental units and homes have air-conditioning. If so, the air-conditioning unit is most likely run by electricity.

Heat

Heat is broken up in three ways in a rental unit:

Heat that comes out of your vents is powered by either gas or electricity.

Hot water that runs from your faucets comes from a hot water tank. This tank is heated by either gas or electricity. (When looking for an apartment, be sure to ask the landlord how BIG the hot water tank is.)

Oven and stove are heated by either gas or electric.

ASK YOUR LANDLORD ABOUT HOW ALL THREE OF THESE ARE HEATED IN YOUR APARTMENT. It is important to know exactly what you are paying for.



Reviewed August 2009