Landlord Liability? Since when did I become thy brother's (tenant's) keeper?
This question I asked of myself when I received an overdue utility bill in the mail on Saturday June 14th (conveniently received on a day the City of Lincoln Center is not open to call and discuss the matter), along with a letter explaining their June 9th City Council Meeting decision. This bill was sent to my address in my name, but is stamped with my renter's name and utility account number also. This is not MY utility bill, why did I receive it?
Here is a link that may help to explain. If it is no longer June 9th minutes, click on the appropriate link on the left of their page. http://www.lincolnks.org/Minutes.html
Apparently, as I was told when I attended the recent COLC Council Meeting on Monday July 14th, there had been a city code for some time that had not been enforced for some time. They claim that many cities are doing this now...
So now if a renter in Lincoln Center decides to make an excuse on rent and skip it, sure I have their deposit to cover the month's rent (and my monthly house pmt, taxes, insurance) if they leave before the end of the month and do not damage anything, but now I am expected to use MY deposit collected for MY losses incurred, to pay someone else'e past due utility bill? And if the city utilities are turned off for non-pmt before/after a renter moves out, the utility bill from a previous renter must be paid in FULL before someone else moves in? I cannot re-rent the house without utilities on, what if the cost incurred for their utilities exceed my rental deposit?
Now THIS is where I get mad, because I am responsible to not only PAY my OWN utility bills, but ALSO pay them on time. Just because I own the house my renter is renting from me, I am responsible for their utility bill too? When did I sign a legal document as a co-signer, promising to pay someone else's bills? That's right, I did NOT. So how is this process legal?
I am a member of the LPA, and yesterday I emailed the LPA the above link and info on this crazy enactment of what the COLC calls city code. I am awaiting an answer, but I want to believe that there is something very ILLEGAL about forcing someone else to pay a bill for anyone without a legal co-signer signature on a legal document, agreeing to do so if they default.
My house pmt, taxes, and insurance are currently costing me $7 more than the current rent I collect, due to recent tax levy changes there. Now $7 a month I can handle losing, but if another renter were to pull a stunt like a previous renter I had, who skipped out owing the equivalent of 3 months rent (due to I could not legally evict them if they were paying partial rent pmts, which is not fair because I was still making my full pmts out of MY paycheck), if they also left me with a huge utility bill, it would take me months to recover even working overtime to pay it all off to be able to have re-rent the house with utilities in the next renter's name.
Don't they collect their own deposit you ask? Yes they do. I strongly advised the COLC Council that since they collect a deposit, it is THEIR responsibility to collect from the person THEY provided the utilities to. There are many options available to collect (i.e. court judgments, wage garnishments, income tax refund lien, requiring a valid credit card to be charged deposit and final bill pmt, etc.).
They could also require a 2nd and/or 3rd party co-signer if necessary, to ensure their collection process goes smoothly, but no, they want to punish the Landlord, claiming "Landlords are making money on these rentals", as if I am sitting on a beach in Waikiki collecting my rent!
Sure, a Landlord could make money, but ONLY if they do NOT have a house pmt to make on them. I think there needs to be a landlord discrimination lawsuit filed against any city that enacts and enforces a "Landlord Liability" code like this. We have enough costs to pay as it is now.
Providing a 3rd party with the account information (name, address, account number) of someone who has NOT signed an agreement for them to do so, is CONSUMER FRAUD (a Federal Crime)and a violation of the PRIVACY ACT (also a Federal Crime).
Sending a utility bill to someone totally unrelated to the debtor, other than their business relationship (Landlord/Tenant) and expecting a pmt from that 3rd party by refusing to provide future services to that address location until a previous tenant's bill is paid, is CRIMINAL EXTORTION (unknown if State or Federal Crime).
My point is, if I have to spend good money on background checks (which tells you little about utility pmt history), and charge a deposit to cover the same as rent for my house, then they need to follow the same. Charge a deposit equivalent to the highest utility bill ever incurred there if necessary, but don't expect ME to pay for a utility bill that I did not enjoy the services for. I pay enough now for my OWN utilities, and for others when I pay my Federal and State taxes that Federal prison and State correctional facility funding comes from, so inmates/offenders can run fans, lights, and electronics 24 hours a day and not be charged a dime to do so.
Enough is enough. I only rent my house in LC because it did not sell after being empty 3 months when I moved out, and I could not sustain the pmts forever and refuse to have a foreclosure in my credit report.
The COLC Council was not interested (they actually chuckled) when I offered to sell them the house so THEY could be a Landlord... Hey, it's no laughing matter.
In the meantime, yesterday July 15th I received another past due utility bill for the renter, even higher than the first bill. It is as if the COLC is just poking me with a stick and teasing me to file a lawsuit. (I know the renter is paying his utility bill, but just paying late because of the time frame of the month he gets paid). Well, if the utilities go off, they go off. Too bad. I am not paying it, and if I cannot rent the house without utilities, I guess I am going to have to sell my house here and move back to Lincoln Center, where my house pmt is less than half of this one in Ellsworth.
My beef is with crazy city codes and a past renter who deadbeated me out of a lot of hard-earned money, NOT with my current tenant. I have an understanding with my current tenant about when he gets paid and when rent shall be paid. So far so good, I just wish I was not receiving his overdue bills in my mail.
If every city is imposing and enforcing a "Landlord Liability" code of some sort like this one, as the COLC Council claims, perhaps I am doing things wrong in this "OBAMA FREE RIDE" thinking economy, by owning houses rather than being a renter myself? Apparently it is too much trouble to file legal judgments on renters, so if I could just reduce my belongings to a few choice items, then I could rent places, make excuses, force landlords to finally legally evict me (by which time I have gained a month's rent or more by not paying), and just skip out on paying utility bills in every city I move to as a bonus. Sounds like a great freeloading way to visit every city and state in this great nation of opportunity for deadbeat freeloaders.
Thank you all for such a wonderful idea! I would NEVER run out of cities to skip out on, in this good old USA... (Sarcasm intended)
Now if I could just get someone to pay my cell phone bills, fuel expenses, auto loans, health and auto insurance, and food expenses too, I could just quit my job and live life FREE in the USA like certain others do.
(Disclaimer: My personal opinion only, not my professional opinion, and not the opinion of my employer; past, present, or future).
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