If you own rental property and are having problems with one of your tenants paying rent on time, you may be wondering what your rights are when it comes to the utilities on the property. When the utilities are in your name, shutting them off may seem like a good step to take to get your tenant to pay his or her rent; however, this is not legally acceptable. Here are three things to understand about this.
When utilities can be disconnected
When a tenant is responsible for placing utility bills in his or her name, the tenant becomes responsible for the bills. In this situation, you will have no control over the utilities because they are not in your name. The utility companies have the right to shut off the services, though, but they will only do this if a person is behind on a bill.
Most utility companies will give written notice to a person that is behind on his or her bills. This gives the person a chance to pay the bill before it is disconnected. If the person fails to pay the bill by a certain date, the utility company has the right to disconnect.
Why landlords cannot disconnect utilities when bills are in their name
If the utility bills of the unit are in your name, you will not have the legal right to shut them off if there is someone living there. If the tenant living there is behind on his or her rent, you still do not have the right to shut off the utilities if the lease says that you will provide them to the person.
This may seem unfair; however, you can take other actions to get your rent money. The best action to take is to file an eviction notice with your local court. If a person is not paying his or her rent on time, evicting the person is usually the best way to handle a situation like this.
How a real estate lawyer can help
If you are not sure how to go through with the eviction process, or if you would like to know all your options, you can contact a real estate lawyer, like http://valentineandvalentine.com. Real estate lawyers specialize in landlord-tenant laws, and they can help you find the best option to take in this situation.
If you would like to learn more about this, contact a real estate lawyer in your area to schedule an appointment today.