Start your membership account today...  Access to credit reports, 100's of rental specific forms, agreements, letters, checklists, how-to articles, guides, expert advice and much more!  Even a FREE, 3-day trial!

Not a Member?
Get a Free Trial Membership

  Get FREE Stuff! Run Credit Report Rental Forms  Shop & Buy Forms!  Advertise Your Rental Customer Care

Welcome to Landlord.com's Discussion Forum
Sign up Latest Topics
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
RedFord150

Registered:
Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #1 
Hello All,
I am a new member of this forum and have been a Landlord for about 4 years in Southern CA. I used a Property Management Company for the first year and I used a RE Broker to find and sign my last tenant. They use standard CAR 1 year lease form that reverted to a Month-to-Month Rental Contract after the first year was up. This was a few months ago.

The city the rental is located has the right to lien the property for unpaid water bill. The city water dept. notifies me when the tenant is late on the water bill. I just found out yesterday that the tenant now owes 4 months worth of water. We spoke a month ago and she told me the bill would be paid the same week. Apparently, this has not happened. The rent is always paid right before the late charge would come due.

I am a little lost right now. Obviously, the city wants me to be their bill collector. I do not see they have threatened to shut off the water. I do not want any kind of a lien on my property. Exactly how hard should I push the tenant? How involved should I be in how they pay the water bill?

Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

RedFord150

Registered:
Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #2 
I spoke to the broker that signed the tenant. He told me the local water agency is very quick to file liens. He says he has seen them as low as $60.00. I called the water agency this morning. I got lucky. No lien filed and the tenant came in last week and paid all of the past due amount. I was ready to mail a very strong demand letter to the tenant advising them that the cost of removing any lien is on them. Since the water bill is now current. I will hold off on the letter until next time. Sadly, I am confident there will be a next time.
ahkenaten

Registered:
Posts: 156
Reply with quote  #3 
Since they are now month to month tenants and you believe more problems will occur, you should consider ending their tenancy with a 30 or 60 day notice, whichever is common in your state. I always keep my tenants at month to month because I like the freedom of being able to throw a tenant out when I see the writing on the wall.
RedFord150

Registered:
Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #4 
Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, throwing out a tenant over an unpaid water bill is akin to cutting off your arm because it is broken.
The cost of changing tenants usually results in a loss of one or more months rent. I than pay my Broker 10% of a year's rent to locate and sign a new tenant. Now I am out over 2 months rent. The water bill is less than 9% of a month's rent and is owed to the local water company, not myself. This tenant always pays the rent before the late charge is incurred. My risk is potentially having a lien on the property and having to pay a few months worth of water when they move out to remove that lien. Any utility bill paid by me would be deducted from their security deposit.
I posted this topic in an effort to find out the best approach to 'motivating' the tenant to pay the water bill when it is due. At this point, changing tenants is not an option I would consider.

ahkenaten

Registered:
Posts: 156
Reply with quote  #5 
Wow... remind me not to buy property in Southern CA. I'm wondering if it would be better if the water bill came to you instead of the property. That way you know what the water bill is, and you can pay it yourself and then have the tenant pay you. This would change the person owed from the water department to you, and you won't have to worry about liens against your property for unpaid water bills. You pay them, then the tenant pays you. You can make an addendum to the lease that, should the tenant not pay you on time for the water bill, it can be grounds for eviction. It's a small hassle for you, I know, but I'm not seeing a better way to address your concerns.

A simpler way is to emphasize the importance of paying the water bill when you talk to them, maybe even an in-person conversation. You showing up on their doorstep might be what they need to understand how important it is to pay that bill when it arrives.
RedFord150

Registered:
Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #6 
You are right about the emphasis. The letter I was ready to send gave them 7 days to pay the water bill in full or I would pay it and demand payment in full or a '3 DAY NOTICE TO PAY OR QUIT'. A drop by visit can also work.
I found out the tenant paid it on 2-12. The statement I was given was dated 2-11. the tenant got the same statement. I am guessing they saw the amount and realized I also saw it. They had promised to pay it current the month before. This probably prompted them to take a quick trip to the water co. and get it paid. I am very reasonable on the rent and I get everything fixed very quickly. in the big pic, I am a good LL. Hopefully, they realize this and do not abuse our deal. They also take really good care of the property. They are my 3rd tenant in this property. Other than the water issue, they are the best tenant.
Water in this area can be really expensive. If people are not conserving, the bill can be a lot more. This is the reason not to include any utilities in the rent. If people are not paying themselves, they do not care how high it gets. I would rather leave the bill in their name and just stay on top of them.
Always appreciate the advice. This is the best way to learn.
dishrodger

Registered:
Posts: 314
Reply with quote  #7 
if the tenant is responceable for water in your lease, inform the tenant of this.
give them a 5 day notice to pay the bill or face eviction.
lordoftheflies

Registered:
Posts: 7
Reply with quote  #8 
Up the rent to account for an average monthly water bill. Give them a budget for the water. If they exceed the budget, add it to that month's rent.  If they don't pay, kick them out. What's the difference if the water company comes after you for the water bill. This way, you wont have to come out of pocket for most of the water bill, no risk of leans,  and you can keep track of what they use.
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.

Apartment Finders > > Member Log-in > Free Trial Offer > Free E-newsletter > Customer Service > Get Free Stuff! > Run Credit Report > Rental Forms > Vacancy Center > Do-it-yourself > Evicting Your Tenant > Foreclosure Resources > Landlord Discussion Board > Income Tax Resources > Information Center > Join Landlord.com > Landlord Law > Library > Multi-family > Professional Advice > Rental & Property Mgmt > Rent Collection > Repair & Maintenance > Security Deposit > Software Center > Tenant Screening > Vacation Homes > What's New > Rental Agreements > Free Leases > Inside Our E-store > > Security Deposits > > Landlord Daily News > Rental Agreements >
LandscapingSanJose.net Resources: Cleaner Sunshine coast