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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    4

    Default Can I Turn Off Water if a Tenant is Not Paying Rent

    Can I Turn Off Water. Tenant Not Paying
    My question involves real estate located in the State of: California
    A tenant moved in 3 months ago. Lease says that tenant is responsible for all utilities. Tenant never put water in their name so I am still being billed. Tenants Deposit and first months rent check bounced and all checks given since then have bounced. Just filed a 3 day notice. At this point I have not received a Dime. Do I have to keep paying the water or can I turn it off ?

    Help, I am desperate.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
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    15,887

    Default Re: Can I Turn Off Water. Tenant Not Paying

    You cannot turn it off.

    You can, however, seek judgment in small claims court.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    4

    Default Re: Can I Turn Off Water. Tenant Not Paying

    Many Thanks. That is great information. It's sad. It feels like Landlords have no rights. I have a contract (IE:lease) that states that they pay for utilities but I can not shut them off if they do not pay. If the utilities were in their name and they did not pay, the utilities company would shut them off. I was a nice guy and left the water on for them until they changed it over. But they never did. I guess next time I will just have to shut it all off before they come in and that will force them to put it in there names. If they actually paid the rend I would be less concerned.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    15,887

    Default Re: Can I Turn Off Water if a Tenant is Not Paying Rent

    I guess next time I will just have to shut it all off before they come in and that will force them to put it in there names.
    I guess you're kind of new (or perhaps just a bit generous?) at landlording?

    That's standard procedure where I live, and I even had to have the utilities transferred into my name prior to inspection when I bought my house (prior to closing!!) in order to get the inspection done.

    I'm sorry your tenant is a deadbeat. I suppose you could just call it a lesson learned, and play ball a little harder next time 'round.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
    I'm training for the MS Society's Bike to the Bay - and blogging about it!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Can I Turn Off Water if a Tenant is Not Paying Rent

    Technically you can't. People do it though. Here in Key West they put your stuff out on the street and change the locks. Completely illegal, but if they can't pay the rent, how are they going to pay the filing fee to sue and how are they going to prove anything.

    However, you should NEVER have put yourself into this situation. You should not have let them move in until the checks cleared, if made out to a corporation. If made out to you personally, you should have went to their bank and cashed them at the window. Do background checks, check employment, and references. Require a bank draft, money order for the deposit or cash.

    You should have started eviction proceedings immediately, regardless of what thier excuses were. If they came up with all the money before the eviction, fine, you could maybe give them another chance. But we all know how these things work out in real life, you never see a cent. You could have saved yourself one or two months rent. Sue for eviction and for a monetary judgment. They might get jobs or money at some point and you can collect anytime in the next ten or 20 years. Better late than never.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Posts
    1,995

    Default Re: Can I Turn Off Water if a Tenant is Not Paying Rent

    Same in NYC where I am, I cannot turn the water off. It's a safety issue. On the other hand, if the utilities are in the tenant's name, the utlility shuts off either the water, or electric, or gas, I can notify "code enforecement", and they can evict the tenant under emergency dispossess. There is no requirement here for going to housing court to evict.

    I had tenants with electric and gas shut off.

    For the rental that I furnish water, I kept it under my name since the time a tenant didn't pay, I had no idea, but the water company, a municipal utility, can put a lein on the property if the bill is not paid,and I only found out about the past due bill after the tenant left, and they were about to put a lien on the place.

    Now the bills come to my home address, I pay it, and the tenant gets an additional billing.

    If this was my tenant, if the laws are the same as NY, I would keep an eye on whether they paid the electric, and if they don't, I can have "code enforcement" evict them, before even going to housing court.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    1,948

    Lightbulb Re: Can I Turn Off Water if a Tenant is Not Paying Rent

    As a CA landlord you need to read this
    http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/l...ok/index.shtml

    You should also rent/watch the movie Pacific Heights!!

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