What can I do if my tenant is not paying their utilities?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What can I do if my tenant is not paying their utilities?

I just purchased a 2 unit rental property; 1 has a current tenant without a lease agreement. They haven’t signed the new lease agreement yet which states they are to pay utilities water, sewage, etc. I just called the water company and they told me that the tenant hasn’t paid water bill and is almost $600 behind and is getting it turned off. The local ordinance states the owner has to pay it if the tenant doesn’t. Can the tenant be evicted for not paying, even if they haven’t signed the lease yet? Even if they do sign the new lease, it doesn’t specify they have to keep the utilities on, it only states this:

Asked on October 23, 2017 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you cannot evict a tenant for not doing something which they are not required by lease to do--the lease, which is a contract, delineates tenant responsibilities, and a tenant only needs to pay those costs (other than basic rent) set forth in a written, currently in effect (unexpired) lease. So if there is no lease requiring them to pay, you can't require them to do so. You will have to pay this bill.
If they sign a lease requiring them to put the utilities in their name, if they don't, you could then evict them for breach (or violation) of lease; and if the lease says (as many do, and yours should) that if the landlord has to pay any amounts or do any thing which the tenant should have paid or done, then the landord may recover those costs, etc. from the tenant, then in that case, you could sue for the money, too.

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