Can a landlord be held responsible for a tenant's utility bill?
A tenant failed to pay a water bill for months. The water was shut off and fees and penalties have been added. The city is now threatening to take me to collections or put a lien on that property if I don't pay the bill. The utilities have never been in my name. The city did a title search to find the owners (me). Can they do that? Am I responsible for that bill?
The water bill is usually something that the landlord pays and the tenants pays his proportion of the landlord builds this amount into the rent. If the contract for the water services is between the landlord and the city, the landlord bears the ultimate responsibility of paying the bill and the city may lien the home to pay the balance of the amount owed. If the water bill is in the tenant's name and the water is supplied separate the city may still be able to line the property as the own is the one that pays to have access so that the tenant can have the water bill in his name. I suggest that you hire a lawyer and challenge the lien. You also want to file a third party complaint against the tenant and make him pay a portion of the bill. You may have some liability here based on laws in the city and I suggest speaking to a lawyer as you do not want a lien to be attached to the property.