Managing Renter Debts: Landlord Obligations and Resources
by Lisa Wells
Question: A couple of months ago, I evicted some tenants at one of my properties in Reno. The tenants left the property in horrible condition and with over $5000 in damage. I began to repair the unit only to discover that they had left a huge water bill. The water bureau is now telling me that I owe the money and won’t turn it on until it’s paid. What can I do to get the water back on without paying someone else’s bill?
Answer: Landlords are generally not responsible for a tenant’s water bill. Utilities do not hold a landlord responsible for a previous resident's bill unless there's some evidence that the landlord obtains benefits from water usage. We recommend that you visit your local water company, in person, with a copy of the lease and the eviction order. This contract will validate your assertion. If this does not fix your problem, see your state's utility commission. As a last resort, use an attorney.
Additionally, Landlord2Landlord.com does provide bad debt reporting services – if a renter leaves your property and still owes you money, you can report their debt through our website to all three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and Transunion. This means the renter’s debt to you will appear on their individual credit report until the debt is settled with you. See http://l2l2l.com/bureaudebtreporting.aspx for more details.
We also have a contributory database that allows landlords and property managers to create Tenant Report Cards on renters, and to update those report cards at the end of the renter’s lease. Renters in our system that have a history of evictions or not paying rent will be flagged when you run a criminal or credit report on a new applicant. For more information, please visit http://www.L2L2L.com/tenantreportcards.aspx
As always, information in this article is not intended to be used, and should not be used, as legal, tax or accounting advice. Investors should seek advice from an independent financial advisor about their specific situation.
Landlord2Landlord (http://www.landlord2landlord.com/) is a residential tenant screening company that partners with property management companies and homeowner associations to help