What do I do if the landlord fails to pay the utility bills?

Category: Tenant Rights & Laws Last Updated: Sunday, 28 September 2014 Published: Sunday, 21 September 2014 Written by ATA Admin

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What do I do if the landlord fails to pay the utility bills?

If your landlord is responsible for utility payments according to the lease, but does not make the payments, you may still be protected against a utility shut-off. In Pennsylvania, public utilities are required to notify the landlord of a proposed shut-off. The landlord must then send the utility company the names and addresses of any tenants that would be affected. Next, the utility company is required to provide tenants with 30 days notice of a proposed termination of service and of the tenant’s right to continued service by payment of an amount equal to the most recent 30-day billing. If this is paid before the proposed date, services will not be terminated. If it is paid after the termination, services must be restored. Thereafter, tenants would receive the utility bills every month. It is not required that the bills be placed in your name.

If the tenant(s) have paid the bill when it the landlord’s responsibility under the lease, the amount paid may be deducted from rental payments.


You must keep all receipts and bills if receiving them. You must notify your landlord in writing if you plan to deduct the bill from your rental payments. Send the letter certified mail to your landlord.


Utilities are basic necessary services provided to residential properties by public companies. They include gas, electricity and water and sewer services. Landlords are legally required to provide access to these necessities but sometimes the lease will require the tenant to pay for their cost when they are separately metered for the tenant's unit.

If the utilities are not separately metered and involve more than one unit no part of the bill should be billed to an individual tenant. For example, if a duplex unit has only one gas meter but two tenants, the landlord cannot require the tenants to split the bill since there is no way of knowing if one tenant is overpaying. In such a case the payment of the bill is the landlord's responsibility.


Utility Services Tenant Rights Act

There is a Pennsylvania law which protects tenants whose landlords fail to pay their bills. If landlord doesn't pay gas, electric or water bills the tenant should not be required to pay the back bill to keep services on. The utility must notify the tenant occupants before any shut-off and allow them to pay bill for last 30 days only and deduct the payments from rent as it becomes due.



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