Communicating with Tenants About Utilities: What you Need to Know

Do you clearly communicate to tenants their responsibility for utilities? Your lease should outline who is responsible for what, but you also need to communicate to the tenants their responsibility. What’s required of them if they voluntarily move out before the lease without breaking it? What happens if they fail to pay the bill and their heat is turned off in the dead of winter leaving pipes at risk of freezing?

Here’s what you need to tell your tenants about utilities:

Expectations of Payment
There’s no such thing as over clarifying when it comes to your lease. You want to clearly state what utilities a tenant is responsible for covering and what is included with their rent. To further protect yourself, especially if you live a place like the Denver area that has cold winters, include a requirement for minimum heat levels so pipes don’t burst. By setting clear expectations you are better able to protect your investment and manage your tenants.

Rules for Vacancy
Horror stories of tenants leaving properties vacant and turning off utilities to save money run rampant. Don’t let it happen to you. Tenants will sometimes leave a property before the lease is up willing paying a second rent to avoid fees. In an effort to save money it’s natural to decide to turn off the utilities. This is where you need clear rules. If your tenant leaves the apartment for an extended period of time during their lease period and are they allowed to turn off utilities? Do you have anything clearly stated in your lease? Add in a clause requiring utilities to be on and in the name of the tenant during the period of their lease to avoid any disasters.

Responsibility For Damages
So who is liable to pay for a burst pipe due to a tenant not having heat or floors being ruined by a leaky fridge due to the power being off? Generally, the tenant is held liable for negligence, but it’s always best to clarify before you’re in the thick of things. Add a clause to your lease stating the requirements for heat and electric maintenance and clearly explain who is responsible for damages in the event of something happening.

If you are a property owner in Denver, Broomfield, Arvada, Lakewood or Westminster and are ready to hire a property manager contact us today to see how we can help!

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