Hold Keys Until New Resident Turns on Utilities, Puts Name on Account
When a new resident moves into a unit at your tax credit site, it’s important to make sure that he either turns on utilities, such as gas and electric, or, if the utilities were left on, transfers the account to his name. That’s because if new residents don’t transfer utilities into their names before move-in, you may get stuck paying for their utilities.
To prevent such a problem, add an addendum to your lease that gives you the right to withhold the keys until the new resident does one or both of the following: turns on the utilities if they haven’t been left on, and/or transfers the utility accounts to his name, says Ohio attorney Jim Bownas. We’ll give you Model Lease Language: Have Residents Agree to Turn On, Transfer Utilities as of Move-In, that you can adapt and include in your new and renewal leases.
Why Use Lease Addendum?
You may be tempted just to set a policy requiring residents to turn on utilities and/or transfer the utility accounts to their own names before move-in. But if you want to be able to enforce this requirement, your best bet is to formalize it by putting it in a lease addendum, says Bownas. Otherwise, residents may complain that you’re withholding the keys from them unlawfully. And you could end up in court, instead of with a new resident moving into a unit.
What Addendum Should Say
Your lease addendum, like our Model Lease Addendum, should say that:
- New residents must turn on all utilities and/or transfer the utility accounts to their names as of the move-in date; and
- New residents won’t get their keys until you’ve received verification that their utilities have been turned on and/or that the accounts have been transferred to their names.
Leave a space at the end of the addendum for residents to sign to acknowledge that they’ve read it and will abide by it.
If your resident shows up at your leasing office on move-in day without proof that he either turned on the utility or transferred the accounts to his name, keep a list of telephone numbers of local utility companies on hand. Then suggest that the resident call the utility companies while waiting for his move-in packet.
James Bownas, Esq.: Partner, Lane, Alton & Horst LLC; 2 Miranova Pl., Columbus, OH 43215; www.lanealton.com.
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