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Old 05-01-2012, 12:23 PM
 
2 posts, read 5,696 times
Reputation: 10
Default Utilities in landlord's name but responsibility of tenant? PGH, PA

Hello.

My girlfriend and I moved into a rental property in October 2011. Part of the rental agreement stated that it was the responsibility of us to pay the sewer and water bill but that it would remain under the name of the rental company.

Fast forward six months and we wake up to a 48 hour termination notice on our front door.

After talking to the sewer and water company, they told us that the bill was under the name of the previous tenant AND the rental company. They had been sending delinquent payment notices and bills to the rental company and the previous tenant. We had not been receiving them because the rental company hadn't informed us of the situation or the utility company of the tenant change, and the previous tenant had been forwarding her mail to her new address.

So we payed the past due bill and had to pay a 125 dollar reconnection fee. Which leaves me with two questions:

1) Is it even legal for the rental company to keep the utility in their name while making it our obligation to pay it?(The property was previously section 8 and we just assumed they wanted to keep the sewer and water in their name to continue getting section 8 tax credits.)

and

2) Can I deduct the 125 dollar reconnection fee from my next months rent payment without fear of eviction or reprisal?

The Pennsylvania Utility Service Tenants Rights Act states that it is the Landlord's obligation to notify the utility of the current names and contact information of the tenant when receiving delinquency and shut-off notices.

Thanks for your time and advice.
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Old 05-01-2012, 01:44 PM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
21,636 posts, read 25,212,126 times
Reputation: 22321
I'm not sure why you didn't contact the rental company immediately upon receipt of the 48 hour notice but suggest you do so immediately. Send them a return receipt certified letter with copies of whatever documentation you have from the utility company and ask them to promptly reimburse you the $125 reconnection fee. Do NOT "self-help" and deduct that amount from your next rental payment unless the rental company specifically advises you to do so.
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Old 05-02-2012, 08:52 AM
 
2 posts, read 5,696 times
Reputation: 10
Did that. Ten minutes after I found the notice. They had no idea what was happening either. They told me they had called the utility company "but just couldn't wait on hold anymore." And they haven't returned any phone calls made after my initial call asking about the utility account status.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:19 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
21,636 posts, read 25,212,126 times
Reputation: 22321
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmonfort83 View Post
Did that. Ten minutes after I found the notice. They had no idea what was happening either. They told me they had called the utility company "but just couldn't wait on hold anymore." And they haven't returned any phone calls made after my initial call asking about the utility account status.
Then send them the letter as suggested and clearly document everything that transpired from beginning to present (including their comment about waiting on "hold"!). When dealing with contracts and landlords/property management companies, don't rely on 'phone calls. When there's no response to them you need to immediately put things in writing and create a paper trail. If anything ever ends up in court you'll be up a creek without a paddle if all you have to rely on is "he said she said" nonsense. Good luck.
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