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What should I do (tenant didn't pay for last electricity bill)?

Discussion in 'Property Management' started by jaybean, 31st Jul, 2015.

  1. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

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    The agent wrapped everything up, took some damage out of the bond, all done. Trouble is the final electricity bill wasn't paid for and didn't arrive until weeks after they released the bond. Now here's the problem, I had no idea about this, so I called the electricity company and asked for the house's account to be set to my name because I had to go in for a week to do some renovations. I should have asked if there were outstanding amounts first but I didn't. Anyway the damn bill is in my name now and the previous tenant is AWOL. Will I be liable for this? The tenancy agreement definitely covers the billing period.
     
  2. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    Wouldn't the supplier have put it into your name after the time the tenant left? Wouldn't they do a final reading for the tenant and then move it to your name?

    The supplier would have had to read it and that final bill should be sent to the tenant. It shouldn't be your problem. Of course, it will go to the last known address which will be the property, but again, that is not your problem.
     
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  3. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

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    Yes it was all done well after the tenant left. I imagine they would have had to breach some sort of privacy rules to amend his account and add me to it instead of taking a final reading and starting a new one. In confused, I'll call them and find out...
     
  4. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    I cannot imagine they would ever have amended his account to add you. Is that what you asked them to do? When we do this, we put the power into our name. They've never offered to add me to the account. It is always treated as a new connection.

    If you did ask them to add you to the account, you may have made a big mistake here. They will have recorded the calls too. Would love to hear how you get on.
     
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  5. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure I didn't. I've done this many times before so I'm surprised they've misunderstood me this time.
     
  6. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    The tenant would have had a contract with the supplier and your have a different contract with the supplier. You cannot be liable for someone else's debt unless you agreed to.
     
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  7. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    Terry is right. Unless you entered into an agreement with the electricity supplier, then you are not responsible for that debt.

    So, you are only responsible for costs incurred when you signed up with the contractor and no more.

    Rest easy.
     
  8. WestOz

    WestOz Well-Known Member

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    When these billing situations occur for elec/gas suppliers with rental properties I question why they don't operate the same as water suppliers, e.g. in WA water accounts are in the title holders name, whilst we can arrange separate usage only billing to go direct to the tenant in the end the landlord is responsible if the tenant doesn't pay.
     
  9. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    ... that is the million dollar question...
     
  10. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    You should really be talking to the electricity company, not an internet forum... :)
     
  11. jaybean

    jaybean Well-Known Member

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    I wanted to see what my legal position was before talking to them. Looks like it was their screw up, all sorted:)
     
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  12. Beelzebub

    Beelzebub Well-Known Member

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    I don't actually know, but my guess is that as, water companies are statutory authorities and electricity suppliers are not, they are in a position to make sure they get paid.
     
  13. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    LOL... I've always thought it was simply that they are too cheap to spend the money implementing the change to allow usage to go to the tenant. And of course, if landlord doesn't pay, they know we own a house they can grab. Tenant may have nothing.
     
  14. Terry_w

    Terry_w Solicitor, Finance Broker, CTA Business Member

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    Actually I think there is legislation to make the owner of the property liable if the tenant does a runner.
     
  15. chunho01

    chunho01 Member

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    Interesting point... I have a slightly similar situation now. Tenant has left the property for 2 months now (yes, vacant still) but the electricity and gas is still on... I never talk to any gas/elec suppliers, and the house is managed by an agency. Should I be concerned?

    Should I instruct the agency to do something after a new tenent is signed?
     
  16. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    Your new tenant will ask to have it put on in their name. The old tenant will get a bill when his company does a final read. You don't need to worry. Nobody will take direction from you anyway as you are not party to their contract.
     
  17. Chilliblue

    Chilliblue Well-Known Member

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    It is rare for the utility to actually come out and disconnect.

    Unless you enter into an contractual agreement with the company, then you have nothing to worry about.
     
  18. WestOz

    WestOz Well-Known Member

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    Only if the supply for service accounts are in your name, usually this would only be water unless other arrangements/agreements with tenants (i.e. to save each tenant having to pay connection fees it stays in your name, you receive the invoices but tenant pays them).

    If utilities are in tenants name they are the legal customer, its their responsibility when vacating to organise the cancellation (incl final meter read) of utilities in their name.
    Utility providers will go to the property for a final meter read but generally won't disconnect the service. Gas suppliers may turn off the main meter tap and place a card on it advising any new occupant details to have the service put into their name.

    During vacant R&M/inspection the utilities are still available (i.e. pre-settlement inspection) usually minimal which pass on to the next tenant, if excessive compensation arranged.