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If a tenant leaves unpaid bills is the landlord responsible?

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#1 than4

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:08 AM

DH and his parents have an investment property.  I try not to get involved as I don't really approve of the way FIL has chosen to manage it, but DH gets very stressed about it so I said I would post here.

One of the tenants has contacted him and said that other tenants have not given her money for the electricity bill so she is not going to pay it.  She has also given notice to move out, citing issues with bills and similar with this other tenant.

DH is worried about what happens if the electricity gets cut off because this tenant hasn't paid the bill.  Does the debt stay with her and the other tenants can reconnect the electricity?  Or is the debt with the house and the landlord is responsible?  They don't collect money for bills with the rent - it is the tenants responsibility - so they can't withhold money from the bond for the unpaid bills.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

ETA: Should probably say that they rent the house out by the room as FIL likes the fact that they get substantially more money doing this than renting it out as a whole.

#2 Frankly my Dear

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:13 AM

The debt will stay with the ex-tenants I believe. But if it gets disconnected it may be a PITA to get re-reconnected.

#3 Praetor VitaeChel

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:13 AM

If the bills are in the tenants name then the tenant is responsible for the debt. If bills are in landlords name... they will end up paying. Most rentals have bills in tenants name for exactly that reason.

Next tenant will connect in their own name I assume, so they won't have any issues there.

Edited by vitaechel, 10 January 2013 - 07:14 AM.

#4 Frankly my Dear

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:14 AM

Oh, just re read. Who's name is electric bill in?

#5 casime

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:14 AM

The bill will stay with whoever the name of the bill is in.   So if one tenant only has her name on the electricity account, then she is solely responsible for that bill and it will stay with her and end up with a debt collection agency.   A new tenant can move in and apply for an electricity account in their own name.  Happened to me on a place I rented years ago.   I had debt collectors show up looking for the old tenants to pay the bill, but once I showed them a copy of my lease they went away.

#6 than4

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:19 AM

Thanks for the quick replies.  

The bill is in the name (solely) of the tenant.  She is young and I don't think she realises that the debt will stay with her.  She is just trying to prove a point to the other tenants so she gets her money.

This is why I try not to get involved.  It comes down to the fact that these two tenants don't get on and can't seem to work it out.  Both have raised issues with DH which are not acceptable (one not paying bills and the other leaving the keys outside for her boyfriend to let himself into the house) so short of kicking them both out they just have to learn to be adults and resolve it amongst themselves.

#7 HRH Countrymel

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:22 AM

They need to get PAYG (Pay As You Go) electricity installed is my suggestion.

Also renting by the room?
That to me sounds more like a hostel/boarding house set up than a domestic house and should in my opinion INCLUDE the bills.  It is (as you have just seen) too difficult to divide things like that up with the type of transient renter who is attracted to renting 'just a room'.

The bill is in the tenant's name so the debt is also in the tenants name.

Your PILs have made this far more complicated than it needs be though.

#8 elmo_mum

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:22 AM

whose name is the bill in?

if it is in your fil name, then if the tenants choose not to pay, it is his responsibility as he is the one named on the bill

if it is in the tenants name, then he has no legal responsibility in relation to who pays what and when. if they choose not to pay and they get ot cut off, thats their bad luck

the next person to connect will have no probs, as they are not the original people named...

#9 **Anna**

Posted 10 January 2013 - 07:25 AM

The fact it is being let out room by room rather than as a whole makes it tricky. I think it is really unfair if she isn't able to choose the person she is living with and even more unfair if age is made responsible for their bills. If she chose that person to live with however and the rent I'd set up differently that is different.

#10 emnut

Posted 10 January 2013 - 03:59 PM

if he wants to rent the house out by the room then he needs to have the electricity in his name and charge an amount for rent including utilities so by doing it the way he has it is his mismanagement that has caused the situation.

It is not fair for other tenants to need to chase each other for money for bills when it is the landlord's dodgy dhoice to rent the house that way.

#11 sandgropergirl

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

I'm nt surprised you don't approve. Your FIL is a douche.

#12 Rainbow Lemur

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:25 PM

Sounds like a mess and your DH really needs to check with the relevant authority whether they are renting the place out legally.  It sounds Your FIL is confused as to whether they are letting it as a boarding house type set up or just a standard residential lease.  Your DH doesn't want it to come back and bite him.

#13 Holidayromp

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:27 PM

I hope that he ends up having to pay the bill.  He sounds dodgy and eager to make a quick buck by renting out the rooms rather than the place as a whole.
Even though it is done this way and can make the LL alot of money it can cause alot of headaches too so I hope that this time it will turn around and bite him the a*se.
Also I am with the pps he should be paying all electricity and utilities doing it this way.

#14 Daisy Goat

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:30 PM

Ugghhh there are a large number of houses rented out room by room around this  area due or the location of the Uni. It is a money grabbing concept by greedy landlords who overcharge to desperate students.

If your FIL is going to be so greedy he needs to charge a premium amount for each room and cover all amenities himself.

#15 The Old Feral

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:33 PM

If she leaves and the power is cut off, who's going to set up a new account in their name?  I sure as hell wouldn't agree to be responsible for a bunch of strangers.  Your FIL might find that the other tenants move out too, and/or he can't re-let the empty room.

I agree with the others - he should provide power in a boarding house situation.

#16 42n8

Posted 10 January 2013 - 04:37 PM

Sounds like an illegal boarding house to me and if push comes to shove, that will invalidate the lease the tenants signed too.

The tenants who's names is on the supply agreement with the power company is responsible for any debt with that company. However, if she's smart, she could take the landlord's to the tenancy tribunal for compensation for not legally renting the property to her (ie: being forced to provide power to the whole house when she was only renting 'a room' and non-compliance with boarding house safety requirements.

You're right to stay right out of it.

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