Can we turn off the water and electric if the tenant does not pay since they are in our name?

05/15/2007 - Landlord Tenant - State: PA #4870

Full Question:

We are the landlord and have a signed lease agreement for the tenant to pay water & electric to us by the due date or the services will be terminated. The utilities are in our name. Can we turn off the water & electric if the tenant does not pay?

Answer:

68 P. S. § 399.3. Notices before service to landlord ratepayer discontinued
(a) Except when required to prevent or alleviate an emergency or except in the case of danger to life or property, before any discontinuance of service within the utility's corporate limits, to a landlord ratepayer for nonpayment a public utility shall:
(1) Notify the landlord ratepayer of the proposed discontinuance in writing as prescribed in section 5[fn1] at least 37 days before the date of discontinuance of service.
(2) Notify the following agencies which serve the community in which the affected premises are located in writing at the time of delivery of notice to the tenants of the proposed discontinuance of service:
(i) the Department of Licenses and Inspections of any city of the first class;
(ii) the Department of Public Safety of any city of the second class, second class A, or third class; and
(iii) the city or county Public Health Department or in the event that such a department does not exist, the Department of Health office responsible for that county.
(3) Notify each residential unit reasonably likely to be occupied by an affected tenant of the proposed discontinuance in writing as prescribed in section 6[fn2] at least seven days after notice to the landlord ratepayer pursuant to this section, and at least 30 days before any such discontinuance of service. However, if within seven days of receipt of the notice issued pursuant to this section, the landlord ratepayer files a petition with the court disputing the right of the utility to discontinue service, such notice shall not be rendered until such petition has been adjudicated by the court.
(b) Before any discontinuance of service by a public utility to a landlord ratepayer due to a request for voluntary relinquishment of service by the landlord ratepayer:
(1) the landlord ratepayer shall state in a form bearing his notarized signature that all of the affected dwelling units are either unoccupied or the tenants affected by the proposed discontinuance have consented in writing to the proposed discontinuance, which form shall conspicuously bear a notice that false statements are punishable criminally;
(2) all of the tenants affected by the proposed discontinuance shall inform the utility orally or in writing of their consent to the discontinuance; or
(3) the landlord ratepayer shall provide the utility with the names and addresses of the affected tenants pursuant to section 4[fn3] and the utility shall notify the community service agencies and each residential unit pursuant to sections 3 and 6.[fn4] Under the voluntary relinquishment discontinuance procedures of this sub-paragraph the tenants shall have all of the rights provided in sections 7 through 11.[fn5]
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.5.
[fn2] 68 P. S. § 399.6.
[fn3] 68 P. S. § 399.4.
[fn4] 68 P. S. § 399.3 and 399.6.
[fn5] 68 P. S. § 399.7 to 68 P. S. § 399.11.
68 P. S. § 399.4. Identifying tenants
(a) Upon receiving a lawful request for the names and addresses of the affected tenants pursuant to this act, it shall be the duty of the landlord ratepayer to provide the utility with the names and addresses of every affected tenant of any building or mobile home park for which the utility is proposing to discontinue service unless within seven days of receipt of the notice, the landlord ratepayer pays the amount due the utility or makes an arrangement with the utility to pay the balance.
(b) Such information shall be provided by the landlord ratepayer:
(1) within seven days of receipt of the notice to the landlord ratepayer required by section 3;[fn1] or
(2) within three days of any adjudication by a court having jurisdiction that the landlord ratepayer must provide the requested information if the landlord files a petition with the court within seven days of receipt of the notice to the landlord disputing the right of the utility to discontinue service.
(c) It shall be the duty of any public utility to pursue any appropriate legal remedy it has, necessary to obtain from the landlord ratepayer, the names and addresses of all affected tenants of a building or mobile home park for which the utility is proposing discontinuance of service to such landlord ratepayer.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.3 of this title.
68 P. S. § 399.5. Delivery and contents of discontinuance notice to landlord ratepayer
(a) The notice required to be given to a landlord ratepayer pursuant to section 3[fn1] shall contain the following information:
(1) the amount owed the utility by the landlord ratepayer for each affected account;
(2) the date on or after which service will be discontinued;
(3) the date on or after which the company will notify tenants of the proposed discontinuance of service and of their rights under sections 7, 9 and 10;[fn2]
(4) the obligation of the landlord ratepayer under section 4[fn3] to provide the utility with the names and addresses of every affected tenant or to pay the amount due the utility or make an arrangement with the utility to pay the balance including a statement:
(i) that such list must be provided or payment or arrangement must be made within seven days of receipt of the notice; and
(ii) of the penalties and liability which the landlord ratepayer may incur under section 18[fn4] by failure to comply; and
(5) the right of the landlord ratepayer to stay the notification of tenants by filing a petition with the court disputing the right of the utility to discontinue service.
(b) Any one of the following procedures shall constitute effective notice to the landlord under section 3:[fn5]
(1) Notice by certified mail if the utility receives a return receipt signed by the landlord ratepayer or his agent.
(2) Notice by personal service of the landlord ratepayer or his agent.
(3) After unsuccessful attempts at personal service on two separate days, notice by first class mail and conspicuously posting at the landlord ratepayer's principal place of business or the business address which the landlord provided the utility as his address for receiving communications.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.3.
[fn2] 68 P. S. § 399.7, 68 P. S. § 399.9 and 399.10.
[fn3] 68 P. S. § 399.4.
[fn4] 68 P. S. § 399.18.
[fn5] 68 P. S. § 399.3.
68 P. S. § 399.6. Delivery and contents of first discontinuance notice to tenants
The notice required to be given to a tenant pursuant to section 3[fn1] shall be mailed or otherwise delivered to the address of each affected tenant, and shall contain the following information:
(1) the date on which the notice is rendered;
(2) the date on or after which service will be discontinued;
(3) the circumstances under which service to the affected tenant may be continued, specifically referring to the conditions set out in section 7;[fn2]
(4) the bill for the 30-day period preceding the notice to the tenants;
(5) the statutory rights of a tenant to deduct the amount of any direct payment to the utility from any rent payments then or thereafter due; to be protected against any retaliation by the landlord for exercising such statutory right; to recover money damages from the landlord for any such retaliation;
(6) that tenants may make payment to the utility on account of nonpayment by the landlord ratepayer only by check or money order drawn by the tenant to the order of the utility; and
(7) a telephone number at the utility which a tenant may call for an explanation of his rights.
The information in paragraphs (1) through (7) shall be posted by the utility in those common areas of the building or mobile home park where it is reasonably likely to be seen by the affected tenants. Any officer or employee of the utility may at any reasonable time, enter the common hallways and common areas of such building for the purpose of complying with the provisions of this section.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.3.
[fn2] 68 P. S. § 399.7.
68 P. S. § 399.7. Rights of tenants to continued service
(a) At any time before or after service within the utility's corporate limits is discontinued by a public utility on account of nonpayment by the landlord ratepayer, the affected tenants may apply to the utility to have service continued or resumed. A public utility shall not discontinue such service or shall promptly resume service previously discontinued if it receives from the tenants an amount equal to the bill of the landlord ratepayer for the 30-day period preceding the notice to the tenants. Thereafter, such utility shall notify each tenant of the total amount of the bill for the second and each succeeding period of 30 days or less and if the tenants fail to make payment of any such bill within 30 days of the delivery of the notice to the tenants, the utility may commence discontinuance procedures: Provided, That no such discontinuance may occur until 30 days after each tenant has received written notice of the proposed discontinuance as prescribed in section 8.[fn1] All payments by tenants to a utility on account of nonpayment by the landlord ratepayer shall be made by a check or money order drawn by the tenant to the order of the utility. Upon receiving any such payment, the utility shall notify the landlord ratepayer who is liable for the utility service of the amount or amounts paid by any tenant and the amount or amounts credited to the landlord's bill for each tenant pursuant to the provisions of this section. In the event that the tenants fail to satisfy the requirements of this section to maintain or restore service and service to the affected dwelling units is discontinued, the utility shall refund to each tenant the amount paid by such tenant toward the bill which the tenants failed to pay, upon the request of the tenant or after holding the tenant's payment during 60 consecutive days of discontinued service, whichever occurs first.
(b) Any tenant of a residential building or mobile home park who has been notified of a proposed discontinuance of utility service pursuant to section 3[fn2] shall have the right to agree to subscribe for future service individually if this can be accomplished without a major revision of distribution facilities or additional right-of-way acquisitions.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.8.
[fn2] 68 P. S. § 399.3.
68 P. S. § 399.8. Delivery and contents of subsequent discontinuance notices to tenants
Subsequent notices required to be given to a tenant pursuant to section 7[fn1] shall be mailed or otherwise delivered to the address of each affected tenant and shall contain the following information:
(1) the date on or after which service will be discontinued;
(2) the amount due, which shall include the arrearage on any earlier bill due from tenants;
(3) a telephone number at the utility which a tenant may call for an explanation of his rights; and
(4) the right of a tenant to file a petition with the court to enforce any legal right that he may have.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.7.
68 P. S. § 399.9. Tenant's right to withhold rent
Any tenant who has made a payment to a utility on account of nonpayment by the landlord ratepayer pursuant to this act may subsequently recover the amount paid to the utility either by deducting said amount from any rent or payment on account of taxes or operating expenses then or thereafter due from such tenant to the person to whom he would otherwise pay his rent or by obtaining reimbursement from the landlord ratepayer.
68 P. S. § 399.10. Waiver prohibited
Any waiver of the tenant's rights under sections 3 through 11[fn1] shall be void and unenforceable.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.3 to 68 P. S. § 399.11.
68 P. S. § 399.11. Retaliation by landlord ratepayer prohibited
It shall be unlawful for any landlord ratepayer or agent or employee thereof to threaten or take reprisals against a tenant because the tenant exercised his rights under section 7 or 9.[fn1] Any landlord ratepayer, or agent or employee thereof who threatens or takes such reprisals against any tenant shall be liable for damages which shall be two months' rent or the actual damages sustained by the tenant, whichever is greater, and the costs of suit and reasonable attorney's fees. The receipt of any notice of termination of tenancy, an increase in rent or of any substantial alteration in the terms of tenancy within six months after the tenant has acted pursuant to section 7 or 9 to avoid discontinuance of utility service, shall create a rebuttable presumption that such notice is a reprisal against the tenant for exercising his rights under section 7 or 9. However, the presumption shall not arise if the notice of termination of tenancy is for nonpayment of rent not withheld under section 9 or lawfully withheld under any other right that the tenant may have under law.
[fn1] 68 P. S. § 399.7 and 399.9.


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05/15/2007 - Category: Landlord Tenant - State: PA #4870

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