First Time Landlords

Updated on May 23, 2011
P.:. asks from Phoenix, AZ
23 answers

My husband and I are in the process of purchasing a rental property in the Phoenix, AZ area and we're learning as we go. We were going to require our tenants to put the water and electric in their name and have them pay it directly. I've personally rented before where the electric was in my name but I'm not sure I've ever had to have the water in my name. What is customary/more common, to have the water in the tenants name or the landlords name and have it included with the rent? Thank you!

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So What Happened?

The responses were 50/50 and the advice has been great. I think for now we have decided to have the water and electric in the tenants name. Our rental is a condo and it has a washer/dryer and a separate meter. There is no yard to worry about watering. If we put the water in our name we'd charge more rent so either way the tenant is paying for it. Thank you all for taking the time to respond.

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answers from Dallas on

Hi - if it is a house or duplex where the utiliites can be separately metered, all utilities should be in tenants name and they pay direct. Water, gas, phone, cable, electricity, trash etc. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Flagstaff on

If it is a house, all utilities should be in the tenant's name where the tenant is responsible to pay it directly. If it is an apartment or condo where there may not be separate water meters, then it would be in the landlord's name and included in rent. Since water usage can vary, it would be easier for you to have the tenants pay it directly.

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answers from Phoenix on

we currently rent in gilbert and we pay all utilities including water! our landlord even has us pre-fill out 12 months of checks so she already has them! ha! and hubby rented in phoenix before us moving in together and he paid the water also. congrats on being able to buy another property. oh, and as an insurance agent...make sure you make it MANDATORY that they get a renters insurance policy as your landlord policy does NOT cover their personal property. let me know if you have questions and congrats again!!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

I would be all business and treat everyone the same. Everyone fills out an initial application with the fee for a credit check and background check included. It needs to be a money order or cash so you don't get stuck with a bounced check. Screening out the bad tenants and finding the right tenant is the key to your success.
If they have broken leases or been kicked out, move on. If they have bounced checks and refused to pay, move on. If their employment is not verifiable, move on. It is better to do without rent for a month or two than have someone trash your place.
Good luck and the websites is excellent.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

When my mother was a landlord, she always paid for the water because she wanted to make sure that the lawn was always watered enough. Just a thought...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Modesto on

Most places I rented in my younger years- the water was paid for by the landlord, this insures your right to tell them to keep the lawn up. If there was a huge spike in your normal flat rate water bill I would then discuss with the tenant "what ARE you doing with the water?" and then possibly have them pay the excess if warranted. Utilities such as electricity and gas and trash pickup should always be in the tenants name. Make sure your lease/rules cover all bases to protect you in EVERY way. People can be very rough on a property that does not belong to them for some reason.
Here's a good site that has info for landlords, you can join it for free and get a weekly newsletter that I find helpful. It's for homeowners with rental properties, I'm just an apartment manager but I still glean good info from the site that helps me on occasion:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Water in landlord's name, electricity in tenant's name. You should of course add a certain percentage to rent rates to cover water bills. Congratulations!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Richmond on

I've rented for a decade, and ALL the bills have always been in my name. Cable, phone, internet, water, trash utility, gas/oil, electricity, renters insurance, etc... For me, I would be THRILLED if my landlord had to pick up just ONE of those ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

i have always had my water in the landlords name. sometimes we had to pay it and sometimes it was the landlords responsibility. this is the first time that i have rented where my landlord kept the lights and gas in his name but the payment responsibility is ours. good luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

We are looking for a rental property in Gilbert since we have expanded our family and need to get out of our apartment. Our lease is up in July. So maybe we could rent your property. I would say that the tenant be responsible for putting water and electric in their name and not yours so you are not responsible. Which most people I feel will understand. We have a rental property in TX and we have always had it in our names until she skipped on us leaving us the utilities bills to pay now we have all our tenants put it in their names. Good luck, PING me if interested.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

We are renters. Most buildings are set up for individual billing for electricity in each unit, so that should not be a problem. We have paid water when we rent a house, but none of the apartment buildings we ever lived in were set up for individual water billing, it was always included in the rent simply because there were no separate meters for each unit. If your property has separate meters for each unit or it;s a duplex or single family home, I don't see an issue.
In our current home our landlord still gets the bills and forwards it to us, they do it because the utility can put a lien on your house if the bill is not paid, so they want to make sure we don't rack up unpaid bills. That is something you may consider.
Consider hiring a property management company. As a renter I prefer to deal with someone who is a professional and deals with rental issues every day and I am sure our landlord is pretty happy too, that he doesn't get the calls about something broken that needs to be fixed.



answers from Boston on

I am in the north east and have never heard of tenents paying the water bill?What do you do if they are dead beats? I find that if someone loses their job it is always best to have all the utilities included in the rent or you pay for a lot of busted pipes. If they shut the water off will you be notified first? The electric is no big deal unless they leave you with a fridge full of rotten food like I have seen tenants do or the pipes freeze. The electric company will put the service back in your name if the tenants don't pay their bills if you set it up that way but I would check into the water bills which come from the town. Call the town hall and ask them if they will notify you of any shut offs. My father owned a few rentals and I have seen a lot of crazy things happen. He child proofed the lease as much as possible because one out of 10 tenants will be dead beats or fall on hard times, get divorced, whatever.

I personally would just pay the water bill and figure it out and fix the rent accordingly. Keep it simple! It sure beats finding the water shut off and the hot water heater element burned out and the furnace ruined because it's forced hot water. Also the toilets stopped up and used after the water is shut off. Your looking at huge repair bills. Just look at the worst possible scenario and then figure out if it's really a good plan to trust someone you don't know to pay the bill. Also if they don't pay what could be ruined? Can you be notified by the water and electric company if there is going to be a shut off so you can put it back in your name? Also you need to make sure the tenants put it in their name the day they move in and you put back in your name the day they move out or leave. Good Luck!



answers from Flagstaff on

I own a rental home in Gilbert. I had the water, sewer and trash in my name because I wanted to assure that my renters did not let the grass/landscaping die. (Some might neglect watering the landscape it if they cannot afford it.) However, my current renters wanted lower rent in exchange for them paying the bill. It really depends on the tenant. You may advertise one way, and they may negotiate otherwise.

I have always had them get their own electricity.



answers from Yuma on

I have 10 rental units in Yuma. We pay the water, sewage, and trash pick. The sewage and trash pick up are included in the cost of the water when you have the water in your name.. However, your can either limit the water usage by not allowing a washer, or washing the vehicle. I only have two tenants that have a washer, and they pay $20. more per month on their rent, and happy to do it.



answers from Boston on

I am a landloard and I pay water. You are in AZ but here in MA, heat is a bigger concern, luckily it is in tenants name!



answers from Honolulu on

I have seen it both ways. When it is a house it has always been in ours (trash, water, and power) but we have also lived in a renovated hospital and they couldn't put us each on our own water or power without tearing the whole thing down so they added it in the rent.


answers from Houston on

My tenants have always had water in their name.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I know in PA there are times that the water HAS to be in the landlords name. Certain circumstances. Like if the previous tenants never paid, etc.



answers from Dallas on

We have been landlords for almost 10 years. Our tenants ALWAYS pay their own water and electric. We didn't want to assume the responsibility over those items. If they damaged something we could be liable. I know that seems silly, but I have been amazed at things people who rent will do sometimes. Besides it's one less thing to have to collect in a financial sense. We have it written in our lease that the sprinkler system must remain on (to help the foundation). We stop by and occasionally check the settings to make sure it is on.



answers from Boston on

Having been a landlord in MA and my parents being landlords in PA - I can definitely say put everything you can onto the tenants as responsibilities. In MA it used to be illegal to charge tenants for water but that changed about 5 years ago. I'd double check regarding the legal side of things, but there's no reason to put stuff in your name, have them pay directly for as much as possible.

Good luck!



answers from Phoenix on

Totally fine to have it in the tenants name, that's how we do it (I live in Mesa). Otherwise the rent would be different all the time to account for fluctuations in water usage and price.


answers from Kansas City on

Just keep in mind that when the house is in your name the utilities are YOUR responsibility if they leave. While they would not be able to get utilities turned on elsewhere without paying the bill, if they move out of the city they could get away with it and your new tenants would not be able to get the utilities on if you don't pay their old bill.

We rented a house in California and had a difficult time getting the utilities on and had to prove we didn't own the property because the old tenants had left a big bill.



answers from Portland on

I suggest you do some reading not only about how to organize and manage it but also about the laws in your state and city. There should be an organization for landlords. You could find it on the Internet or yellow pages. Also look in the public library.

I don't remember ever having to pay for water and garbage as a renter. As a landlord I would definitely pay for garbage. I've seen lots of properties trashed by renters who refused to get garbage service.

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