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Old 06-22-11, 04:50 PM   #1
mikeybikes
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Worried about new landlord

Just moved into a house and I am already worried we may be renting from a deadbeat.

Got the water bill transferred into my name, and the first bill came two days ago with a previous balance. The landlord failed to pay a previous month's bill for $17.

What would you do in this situation?

To prevent further late charges and service disruption, I paid the previous bill and sent a letter to my landlord requesting a refund.

I worry that this is a sign of worse things to come.
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Old 06-22-11, 04:58 PM   #2
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You did right. An alternative would have been to attach a copy of the bill, showing it has been paid (and highlighting the unpaid balance part), to the next month's rent, which would be $17 light.
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Old 06-22-11, 04:58 PM   #3
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and you are asking us because.....????

I think you already know things aren't right. Do what you can to protect you and your family. Are you sure the landlord is paying the mortgage on the property? Can't tell you how many friends I have who paid the landlord but the landlord didn't pay the bank and the home was repossessed and my friends tossed out.

Or the $17 could just be an oversite and he will apologize and reimburse you so just forget what I just wrote!
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Old 06-22-11, 05:03 PM   #4
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The only reason to put up with a flaky landlord is a killer property.

Just document every thing that's damaged on the property, keep records and be prepared to go to court.
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Old 06-22-11, 05:16 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by mikeybikes View Post
Just moved into a house and I am already worried we may be renting from a deadbeat.

Got the water bill transferred into my name, and the first bill came two days ago with a previous balance. The landlord failed to pay a previous month's bill for $17.

What would you do in this situation?

To prevent further late charges and service disruption, I paid the previous bill and sent a letter to my landlord requesting a refund.

I worry that this is a sign of worse things to come.
Here in Tampa, Fl, (Hillsborough County Water Dept.) you can't transfer until the previous user has scheduled a cut off date. Your previous bill should go to the person, NOT the house. What kind of water purveyor ya got there?
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Old 06-22-11, 05:54 PM   #6
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Here in Tampa, Fl, (Hillsborough County Water Dept.) you can't transfer until the previous user has scheduled a cut off date. Your previous bill should go to the person, NOT the house. What kind of water purveyor ya got there?
Denver Water. Since I'm a tenant, they send a copy of the bill to both the owner and tenant. The lease states I'm responsible for the utilities, so I just paid the account in full.

Denver Water was also awesome about e-mailing me a copy of the bill that wasn't paid. So with the letter, I sent a copy of both bills and a copy of the receipt showing I paid it.
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Old 06-22-11, 06:13 PM   #7
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$17?
Better retain an attorney,send this dirtbag a certified letter and let him know who he's renting to.

The local YMCA in Boulder may rent a few rooms by the night if you find your stuff on the curb tomorrow.
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Old 06-22-11, 07:32 PM   #8
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Thornton Utility did the same thing to me when I purchased my house. However, after the closing costs and what not an extra $30 wasn't much of anything to worry about.
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Old 06-22-11, 09:07 PM   #9
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If your bill came from the utility company, then you should not have to pay anybody elses past balances. Your name and account number is unique to the utility company. If you are paying your utility bills through some kind of arrangement with your landlord...yes I would be worrying at this point. Sounds like you're paying utilities through some kind of arrangement with your landlord since a utility company cannot make you pay for someone else's bill.
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Old 06-22-11, 09:18 PM   #10
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I had a kind of deadbeat landlord years ago. He never repaired anything. I started just documenting repairs I did with receipts for materials and something like $25 and hour for my time, and submitted it with the monthly rent, subtracting the amount of the time and materials for the repairs. He said that was okay, as long as I gave him adequate records for his accounting. I lived there for two years and did a bunch of repairs, especially during months when we were a little short of money . When we finally moved, he said we were the best tenants he'd ever had.

In your situation, I think you did okay by asking for a refund of the $17, but as others suggested I would take it to the next level when the monthly rent is do and subtract $17 from the rent check, and include a copy of the bill showing the balance that was unpaid when you moved in. You never know, it could work.
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Old 06-22-11, 09:55 PM   #11
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I had a landlord who made the start date a month before we moved into the house to the gas company. The bill was a bit of a shock because it was double what I was expecting. I sent the gas company a copy of our lease showing the correct date and they adjusted the bill. The landlord said it was her error but considering all of the other errors she made (like deciding one day we couldn't use the basement or the backyard -- but we did have to mow the grass -- eventhough it was part of the lease agreement), ordering the hydro company to shut off the electricity (we paid that too, but apparently she meant to give the address of another of her leased out homes), and then she wanted us to stop parking my stepfather's car in the driveway because she wanted to park her car while she was at work nearby (driveway parking was included in the lease too). We broke the lease after 6 months because of the endless nonsense the landlord came up with nearly weekly. Fortunately we kept a record of the events and were able to use it to break the lease.

Basically, if the water bill is a mistake, then it's a mistake. But keep records of the mistakes in case it's actually a case of a deadbeat or totally loony landlord.
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Old 06-22-11, 10:03 PM   #12
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As Pam stated- always do a check on your landlord.
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Old 06-25-11, 03:47 AM   #13
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As Pam stated- always do a check on your landlord.
What's the best way to do a "background check" of sorts on a landlord?
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Old 06-25-11, 09:08 AM   #14
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Being in CO, I'm pretty sure that the utilities can NOT add any past balances to your account and hold you responsible for them. You should have disputed the bill with the water company by showing them your lease. You may still be able to get the $17 back by calling them and explaining the situation and showing a copy of your lease.

If not that, then just deduct $17 from next month's payment and attach a copy of the bill/receipt as justification that you paid the $17 on the landlord's behalf.

The first is the right way to do it; you do not want to assume any responsibility for things that may come up before you began the lease!
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Old 06-25-11, 10:34 PM   #15
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What's the best way to do a "background check" of sorts on a landlord?
Check with the foreclosure listings or have a realtor to assist you. Ask to talk to previous tenants and neighbors to get their take on the landlord. If you select the place, take the application and call any services to see if any outstanding payments from the owner or previous tenants. Lastly, do not be afraid to ask the homeowner if they have any unpaid bills and mortgages. They may lie so still do all I mentioned.
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Old 06-26-11, 03:13 PM   #16
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I was going to give you a link, but Colorado charges. It is free here in FL and I usually go to the Clerk of Court's office (online) civil division, docket. Search by landlord's (or property owner's) name. What I look for is an active case where lis pendens has been filed, which is the very beginning of foreclosure action. Lis pendens literally means to let people be aware, which Colordo hampers by charging for it.
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