The Never Ending Saga Of Utilities…

April 23rd, 2011 · 62 Comments · Property Management, Rental Property

To Stride The Earth
Creative Commons License photo credit: garryknight

Another reader question in my inbox today. This one is about problems with utilities and splitting them up. I thought this was an especially good question because it clearly illustrates some of the problems that landlords face with this issue.

Hi Rachelle,

I was wondering what would be the best way to handle this scenario:

I have a property in Alberta, and it is a side by side, up and down duplex.  Each side has a basement suite, so there are a total of 4suites. When I put people on the lease, I have them pay a $100 extra on top of rent to go towards utilities   I bill them every so many months and provide a copy of the bill, as well as what they are responsible for.  The people upstairs who have a larger space, pay 60%, and the people downstairs pay 40%.

I do not change what they owe, even if someone moves out.  For example, if the basement is vacant, the people on the top floor still only pay 60% as outlined in their lease; if the upstairs is vacant, the people downstairs only pay 40% of the cost of utilities.

I had remitted statements as well as the breakdown of what the tenants owed for 4 months and sent them out a couple of weeks ago.  I had not heard back from one tenant, so I contacted her today asked if she had received the bills.  She replied that her boyfriend “is out of town and wants to review [the bills] first.  He should be home next week.  He’s concerned about the amount of water usage when the previous tenant who was evicted was there.  It tripled the amount and we were not even there for the last week of December”. I just responded with “great”.

Anyway, this is how I feel about it: They moved in mid-August, and the basement was tenanted until December 26, when we evicted the previous person then, so he wasn’t there either the last week of December.  (His tenancy began in October).  Then, we had no-one until April, as we needed to get some cash together, clean and pretty up the place and do some reno’s, then list and show and find someone.

We definitely do not have a lot of extra money as having properties means that we need to service them first and keep them well maintained, and right now, we need to feed them until we renew.  So, we didn’t have a basement tenant Jan, Feb, March.  Yet we aren’t asking for the full amount of water used, as the lease says 60% (so we cough up 40% for them), as well as heat (which they control, and yes, I understand they don’t have the freedom have usage of the basement).

However, I don’t think they are horrible tenants, but they are high maintenance.  They do pay their rent on time, but everyone has had some sort of issue with them.  I don’t know/don’t care what the issues were that the tenant who we evicted had, as he was weird; but the new girl downstairs seems nice and the people upstairs gave her a hard time for parking in “their” spot, even though it is street parking.

When she asks them to turn up the heat, they want her to throw on a sweater.  I have had 2 different companies come by to look at any potential heat problem, and they all say it is between the 2 girls.

Also, when I leased to them (upstairs tenants), I said that we had internet/cable capabilities, but that they were responsible for the hook up.  When they moved in, they were upset that it wasn’t included in their lease and that was why they took it.  So, we signed up with Shaw for a year and got them the basic bundle and we are making the payments on that as well.  We did it as I didn’t think it was worth fighting over.  We had been looking for a while and had done reno’s and everything was nice and they fit the bill.

On the one hand, I know that cool heads prevail, and maybe $50 isn’t worth fighting over if I were to credit them that amount as “being nice”, but $ has no friends and no-one gives me $50! Their bill is $274.42 for a 4 month breakdown, with $100 applied to each month, so it would have been $674.42 total).  I could probably show them the bills for the other side for the same time period, which are basically the same, too.

I don’t want to be “nice” as “nice” doesn’t pay the bills; I don’t think they will renew their lease; I don’t think they are horrible tenants, just high maintenance.  I allowed them to bring in a dog, even though I had posted “no-pets”, as they are very clean and tidy and pay their rent on time.

What would be the best course of action in your experience?

Your response is appreciated.
Mrs. Landlord

Utilities Are A Pain

First of all let me assure you that you are far from alone with your utilities problems, splitting utilities often causes problems especially when tenants are faced with a rather largish catch up bill that takes them by surprise. There are a few things you can do to help alleviate problems like this one.

Send Bills Regularly

Don’t wait for the bills to build up before sending it, learn to scan and email or find some other method to keep the tenants up to date with their utilities, this can be hard. Here in Toronto, water/sewage bills are sent quarterly and I have seen bills estimated for extended periods of time. If the meter reader can’t get in, the bill gets estimated and the result can be frightening. If you are collecting money for utilities like you are doing, make sure it ends up being more than they can use. This way tenants get money back which makes them happy.

Privacy Act & Utilities

One of the problems I face as a property manager is that 99% of the time utilities are in the landlord’s name. None of the utilities will give me information. I tell tenants to put utilities in their name but I have no way to check if they did it. In January of this year I rented a place to some foreign students and they did not put the hydro in their name. Since then every month I drive downtown and pick up their hydro money. They keep telling me that they’re going to put it in their name then don’t bother.

As a landlord you can’t usually put utilities into your tenant’s names. The easiest way to deal with this issue is to make sure that they’ve arranged for the transfer before they move in. In January thought the utility was closed and by the time I called in… the tenants had moved in.

The War On Landlords By Utilities

The utility company would much prefer if the landlords who generally have good credit and will pay the bills take responsibility. Some tenants are not responsible and they don’t pay the bills. (Not really news for us) Therefore some utilities such as the City of Toronto Water don’t even allow tenants to put the bills in their name, they also charge 16$ per bill to send the bill to anyone other than the owner of the property. Then even if the bill is in the tenant’s name they put the balance on the property taxes. What a crock!

Oshawa PUC charges a very large deposit on hydro now which can be spread out over a number of months so that tenants can pay it. Tenants with good credit can have their deposit waived.

Being Nice And Giving Breaks

As the landlord noted in this story, money doesn’t have friends and she’s feeding her property money. Giving her tenants discounts and paying their cable and giving them breaks on their utilities is a bad idea. It trains the tenants to expect it. Every dollar they don’t pay, you have to pay.

Don’t Do It!

Wait until the boy friend gets back and then collect every dollar you’re owed. Don’t even go through the entire argument, just be cool and say there’s the bill.



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62 Comments so far ↓

  • Potato

    I definitely second the notion of over-collecting and then rebating based on utilities. That, or just have it be utilities included and raise the rent appropriately. Another option is to get the units individually metered. I can suggest enercare solutions for that (not because of personal experience, but because I’m an investor 😉

    Utilities have always been in my name at the places I’ve rented, but it wasn’t a multiunit building, which complicates that.

    Ugh, don’t get me started on Toronto water. Our bill is usually around $80-90, and $16 of that is just to CC our landlord. What a rip-off!

    • Rachelle

      The problem with “Utilities Included” is that the landlord is responsible for something over which he/she has no control. And believe me you wouldn’t believe how huge a utility bill can be unless you’ve seen some of these bills for inclusive utilities. When tenants pay their own utilities they use 30% less on average. I once rented out my own house inclusive and got electricity bills of $700 for two months. Currently with all the increases I pay about $300-$400 and that was almost 10 years ago.

      Tenants love inclusive because they don’t have to worry… instead the landlord gets to worry. Bad idea, it’s a pain in the butt to collect utilities but it’s far preferable to risk not being able to collect sometimes to the alternative of you paying while the people use energy foolishly and you get to pay for it

    • james

      here in peace river I rent a very small house I don’t see a bill for three months then a week after I get the bill theres a cut off notice. they send my land lord the bill every month but not me I pay it its in my name but they keep doing this because of a bylaw the water bill cant be in the renters name only the owner, but they do send me a bill when they deside too in my name go figure. isn’t this invasion of privacy I mean im the one paying the bill and if they don’t send me the bill then send a cut off notice to my land lord that’s ruining my name in this town I do pay my bills when I get them

      • Rachelle

        You’re quite correct about that. Cities are actually shitty about the bills ans sending them a lot of the time. I’d give them a call.

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  • Free Property Rental Application

    Great information. Congratulations again on a good job Rachelle.

  • Mimi

    i just moved into this house a few months ago, and there were already basement tenants whove been here for about 2 years. I assumed that when the landlord said she would give me $100 towards their utities every month, it would basically cover their usage. But the issue is, that they are a family of 5 and their usage is ridiculously high. In fact, as a family of 5 as well, we use alot less than them, since I do most laundry and whatnot during off peak hours. Now, i understand they need to keep their lights on more often since they are in a basement, but no matter how hard they try, we are still paying for their usage which amounts to more than double of what the landlord has given us monthly towards them. But our landlord beleives that this is enough because we have more space than them. Obviously she doesnt get that electricity cost is based on lifestyle and usage. We’ve tried but she won’t budge. So now we are stuck paying utilities for a (noisy!) family of 5.
    Any advice?

    • Rachelle

      The problem is that utilities are shockingly high. In my house where I have no one to blame but myself, our bills are out of control. The utilities split in a house with 5 people upstairs and 5 people downstairs should be based on a percentage not $100 per month.

      All I can say is that you have agreed to this arrangement and you are stuck with it unless you can renegotiate with your landlord.

  • Mimi

    thanks for your reply!
    all i can say is, get a feel for your landlord, make sure they are respectful and not dismissive before commiting to anything! thts waht ive learned from all this!

  • Phil Gardner

    We own a house with 3 apartments in it. The house is heated with electricity. There are 3 separate hydro meters in the dwelling. We have been paying the hydro bill since 2005 and now we want to switch and have each tenantss pay their own hydro bills. Can this be done? Please reply!

    • Rachelle

      You’ll have to work it out with the tenants. After all if you were the one not paying the hydro and they switched it to your name you wouldn’t enjoy it.

  • erin crouse

    you realize that the landlord who posted a question amd then the landlord who answered gave fraudlent information for usa people. if i pay ultilites included and what law says, and i go over credit i do not pay either landlord or energy company esp if they cant prove these figures. i believe you can loose your liscesne of being renter. also giving fraudlent info like cable included and its not thats fraud. but here in usa they believe dirty landlords who have records and not the clean record tenant this is capitalism if you make laws hurting business to regulate them this agaisnt capitalism problem no such law exist here declaring you have legal right to make money and we are a capitalistic goverment sorry we were founded on communism studied history at fsu wv

  • Grace

    We have a 3000 square foot house and 3/4 of the basement is rented with 2 bedrooms what % of utility should I charged only one person live there?

  • Dave

    Yeah, you guys seem to be fair with your utilities. I have a moron that’s making me pay all of the utilities while a guy is living in the basement and he gets to pay nothing! Pisses me right off.

    • Rachelle

      Hi Dave,

      It may seem unfair but it depends if your rent is discounted to account for that. Lets say the average rent in the area for the property you rent is 1000 plus 60% utilities and you’re paying $800 plus 100% utilities it could be cheaper for you.

      I saw this situation just recently with a property I manage. The tenant paid a flat $200 for utilities and was complaining about that and asked to see the bills and the bills were more at 60% utilities.

      Furthermore I assume when you moved in you knew what the deal was. I have a hard time understanding how you can agree to something before you move in and then complain about it. Still if you are having a hard time with the increased costs for utilities you may want to renegotiate the arrangement with your landlord, especially if you are a long term tenant and are having specific problems with the new tenants using a lot more utilities than the last tenants.

      Finally if you con’t renegotiate the issue, you could start looking around for a new place. You may be surprised at the price of current rentals or conversely you could find a great deal. Voting with your feet is the ultimate payback on your landlord if they are being unreasonable

  • j-san

    Stuck with Hyrdo bill.. am I?

    My former tenant had agreed to pay hydro as per rental agreement. I’ve received letter from my tenant she’s moving out. Tenant had paid 1st and last. The Hydro was under tenant’s name. Tenant moved out in the middle of month and she closed her hydro account and paid that part. I recevied hydro bill for the last half of the month. Tenant is claiming the last half of the month is not hers. she owns me nothing since she moved out. I told her that the apartment is still hers since she paid for it and is responsible for the rest of the month for Hydro. Am not correct on that? She still the tenant until the end of the month even though she move out early.

  • Pattie

    When we moved in the landlord told us to put hydro and utilities in our name. No problem for hydro but utilities refused because of the basement apartment. So the landlord agreed to keep it in his name and we would pay him. We asked every month for the first year for a copy of the utility bill and how much we owed him. He never gave us an answer and would brush us off. Now a year and a half later he calls us and asks why he’s paying our utility bill. We explain the situation and agree with him we would start paying immediately. Now he wants to back charge us for the past year and a half. Can he legally do that?

  • Alison

    We recently purchased and up/down raised bungalow (duplex) as a rental property. It has separate electricity and gas meters (2 furnaces), but only 1 hot water tank. Shared laundry, but hooked to the upstairs electrical panel.

    We don’t have renters yet and are wondering how to deal with utilities.

    Do we charge a flat rate per suite and put everything in our name (accounting for the colder months, etc)? do we have renters put gas / electricity in their names – and water/sewage in our name with a flat rate/ percentage base figure that we add onto/include in rent? I think there separate water lines for up stairs and downstairs coming out of the one hot water tank that we could get submetered, but one tenant will still have to pay for heating the tank. Also, if tenants have utilities in their name, how do I deal with any vacancy between rentals – ie I don’t want the heat turned off to either suite when it’s cold.

    We would like to hear various options!

    • Rachelle

      I usually reccommend having one tenant putting one bill in their name and the other tenant put the other bill in their name. That way you are no liable. I also reccond a clause in the lease that says that any rents received will go to pay the outstanding utilities first.

  • Kels

    Okay Rachelle, I’m having a problem with almost this exact scenario, except that I am the tenant.
    I would not even be surprised if this was actually my old landlords post with a few changed dates and numbers.

    Assuming this again was the above scenario with the following differences. when we moved into the basement, this was my wife and mine first tenancy ever, and we did not not the excessive amount we were being overcharged for in hydro which is over triple, not even including things like that we now live in a much older building instead of a new one, we actually have a dishwasher now that we use regularly, my job is different so I don’t go weeks without doing laundry anymore, and we are actually turning on the heat now, all this included, the bill is still 1/3rd of what we were paying. We finally have our own meter and now know exactly what we use. At the old landlords’ place, we signed the lease for the year, and so we honoured it completely, making all payments ontime, leaving no damage nor mess, nor having any complaints from neighbours.

    Now then, the difference between what we use, and what we were paying for over the course of the tenancy was $600, thats the DIFFERENCE, not the total, and that is a large amount of money to me and my wife who work entry level jobs and have almost more to pay than wages (hooray BC cost of living).

    The problem we are having now is AFTER the year end lease, The landlord told us he wanted us to either renew, or leave so that the upstairs family is able to take over as they wanted the room. We found a new landlord 3 days later whose only condition was that we take over at the beginning of the next month, about 3 1/2 weeks away. When we informed our landlord of this (and again, our contract was already over, he never bothered to renew, and we were still paying normally anyway)
    The landlord told us that 3 1/2 weeks is not enough notice (we could not possible have given a month form the time he told us to the next month) so he told us we would have to pay the next half months rent, (until the 15th) even though we would be moving out at the end of the month AND still paying for renting two locations at the same. time. we were past contract by this time and had not renewed anything.

    The landlord also agreed in person to forward to us our mail, which we have never received (and he has mysteriously never seen exactly since we moved out, even though there was a letter in the box from the tenant before us for the extent of our stay). It is 6 months later, and I just found out the mail had been going there regarding some of my payments to a jewelry company for my wife’s wedding band. this mail we did not would’ve informed us about a change in account numbers, caused us to ‘miss’ payments and removed our “3 year no interest offer” so that 1/4 of our payments are just going to interest.

    Now the landlord is saying we owe him $50 for the 3 week period (in which we occupied for 1 week). We have tried to talk to him and I have even said that yes, we would pay for the week, and maybe even extra for things like running fridge, but that $50 for a single week is exorbant. He is seeming to do exactly what your advice says and just keeps ignoring me and saying “there is the bill, are you going to honour it?” followed by legal threats. After our tenancy contract was up, we agreed to pay for the hydro we used, but never agreed to pay for time we were not there. Adding up the hydro we overpaid for and the rent we paid while not living there, we have held burden of over $1000 for goods we never wanted, nor were able to use. an extra kick in the pants is the extra money in interest we must now pay to the jewelry company because he did not forward us our mail as he agreed, will be far more than the $50 dollars anyway.

    So Rachelle, if what you said here is true:

    “As the landlord noted in this story, money doesn’t have friends and she’s feeding her property money. Giving her tenants discounts and paying their cable and giving them breaks on their utilities is a bad idea. It trains the tenants to expect it. Every dollar they don’t pay, you have to pay.”

    Is the following not true?:

    As the TENANT noted in this story, money doesn’t have friends and she’s feeding her landlord’s property money. Giving her landlords discounts and paying their cable and giving them breaks on their utilities is a bad idea. It trains the landlords to expect it. Every dollar they don’t pay, you have to pay.

    (noting we payed all monies we were contracted to)

    We have (and are still) saddling $1000+ in debt thanks to the landlord, which we have honoured, and the man can’t pay the measly $50? Is there nothing we can do? I would rather eat my hair than continue to be taken advantage of and pay him any more money than he has taken from us.

    As a side note, the basement seemed quite more than cramped for “800 sq. ft.” have we any grounds there is we find we were only given a quarter of said space?

  • nathen

    Hi my wife and I were living in a duplex basement sweet it has one meter to regulate between us and the upstairs tennents. when we moved in we were told that we would only pay 40 percent of all bills and we would pay to the holder of the bills ( upstairs tenant ) then the upstairs tenant moved out and we thaught the landlord would take over seing how we were only paying 40 percent. the landlord never put the bills in there name and because of this the power was shut off so we had no choice but to put the bills in are name. then the land lord moved new tenant upstairs and we were told thay would pay us 60 percent of the bills but thay never onced payed a cent to us I am on aish so this paying for both sweets was too much and forced us into financial ruin we were forced to move out due to unpaid rent. the bills amounted to thousends of dollars. should I sue ? does the landlord owe me money ? how can I fix this ?

    • Rachelle

      I have no idea why you moved you should have gone to the Landlord & Tenant Board and you still can for tenant rights. You have a year. Or you can attend your community legal clinic

  • Laura

    I have a bungalow in ottawa with a 1 bedroom basement apartment and a three bedroom apartment on the main level. My brother and I co-own the house and he is currently living in the basement. Upstairs will be available for rent june as soon as some quick renos are complete. The utilities are not split so I am considering all inclusive rents. I know the cost for typical rent in the area but if I were to put a percentage value what would that be for each apartment. Is that dependent on how many bedrooms or how many people live in each unit?? Also if I do all inclusive, can I include in the lease if the bills are extremely high and not usual, can I charge them extra on top of an all inclusive rent amount?? depending on the fluctuating utility bills.



    • Rachelle

      Usually you would charge 75% upstairs and 25% downstairs or 50/50 or what every you think is fair. There is no hard and fast rule. As for charging above a certain arbitrary amount, you need to know that the Landlord & Tenant Board doesn’t deal with utility issues. If you had such a clause in your lease you would need to go to Small Claims to deal with any outstanding amounts and I am told that it’s a year wait to get into court.

      The strategy I’ve used in the past with relative success is the higher percentage paying tenant gets the hydro bill, puts it into his or her name and pays that. The basement tenant would get the gas bill. Every six months, people meet figure out who owes what and we go from there.

  • Kayla

    Hi Rachelle,
    I live above a retail establishment and we have an agreement to divide the electricity bill so that I pay 25% and they pay 75%. I was told I had to put the bill in my name, which I did. My landlord and the commercial business are now insisting we switch to paying 50% each without any evidence that the consumption of electricity has changed. My lease says “These ratios are subject to change depending upon consumption and subject to review.” What recourse do I have to object to this change? My lease is up for renewal in August, but the other tenant wants to change the bill division now.
    Thanks so much for any help you can provide!

  • Karlee

    Is it illegal for a landlord to make a tenant pay utilities for an entire house, even when it has 2 apartments? She refuses to install 2 meters, and tells the other tenants “their utilities are included”. I have rented for 8 years in alberta and BC and have never had this problem before. She is now hinting that she will be kicking us out at the end of our lease because apparently no one else who has lived here before has not realized they were being taken advantage of.

    Basically if the other tenants leave their lights on, have 5 tvs running all day, and keep their heat on – we have to pay for it. No questions asked.

    Also when we moved in, we were told to get utilities hooked up in our name. We asked if there was 2 meters and she said yes. When the utility companies told us otherwise, she played stupid and kept saying “there should be 2 meters” even though we can CLEARLY see with our own eyes there is not. Now she has finally acknowledged that there is in fact, only 1 meter, she is now going to deduct 100$ from our rent, and is giving us no other choice. Apparently installing a second meter costs to much.

    I would up and move but there i 0% vacancy rent in our town.

    • Rachelle

      It depends what you agree to. Did you agree at the time?

      • Chantelle

        This person asked whether or not it was legal…even if they agreed at the time of moving in it still doesn’t nesscesarily make it legal…landlords cannot bully someone because of desperation…housing is extremely scarce in some places! Jesus some of your answers are so rude and unhelpful!

  • JDN

    Hi Rachelle, I was just going through this post and wanted to relay information I came across that might help your readers.

    I had a tenant who moved out without paying a few months of water/hydro bills and the local municipality (Vaughan, ON) automatically tagged it to me as the owner. Sweet, no?

    When I went down to the city office to pay the bill, in talking with the clerk about how tenants screw landlords, the clerk told me that landlords are now including a sheet renter(s) has to sign in the tenancy agreement that allows the landlord access to their utility bills.

    Has anyone here done that? Are there any legal implications in asking the tenants to sign such a sheet? If all is good, does anyone have sample wording for such a sheet?


  • shahoo

    Im from Ontario, My tenants have moved in to the property about a month ago but they have not transferred the utilities under their name and after several request to them i don’t know what to do? What are my options?

  • Sandy

    My husband and I are renting a basement apartment and there are also enters upstairs.
    In the agreement we pay $900 and $100 for hydro. The water bill would be split 60% upstairs and 40% downstairs.
    We moved in October 1st and the upstairs renters got the water bill which comes every three months.
    The renter upstairs would like us to pay for the previous renters that lived downstairs.

    My question is, am I responsible for the bills that occurred before I moved in?

  • Nicolaiii

    My landlord has failed to tell me and my room mates that the person who has moved into the basement is paying all inclusive (cable and internet as well) when all the bills are in my name. He isn’t answering his phone and I don’t know if he’s giving us a dollar amount from dudes rent or what. But our rent isn’t going down to compensate for it. Can he do that?

    • Rachelle

      What did you discus with him? Surely there was a split of utilities mentioned or you were aware that the basement was empty. You should ask him right away.

  • troy boyer

    As 1 of 2 owners on title of a home who do not see eye to eye. I am wondering if I rent out my half to the other title owner, cancel service to hydro and gas(not shut off) just move service and she is already living there, can she continue to use that service and not pay the bills until they cut it off, and then who would be liable for that used service between time cancelled, and time cut off because the other occupant did not want to pay for it. Is that going to be held against the title of the house somehow or original account holder before stopping service?

  • hello

    Hi Rachelle,

    We recently bought a triplex that is closing in a few months. The biggest suite is currently owner occupied. It is a 3 bed over 2levels. There is also a main- 1bed and a basement-1bed. We are assuming the main and basement tenants, which have all-inclusive leases. But, we want to move to rent+utilities model,especially with the new 3bed unit lease.

    What is the best option for setting plus utiliites on the 3bed unit? When the main and basement eventually move out, we will move to all unit covering utilities. BTW, why did you say basement is usually all-inclusive?

    So assuming the 3bed takes 60% of utilities, each 1 bed eventually takes 20% each. Which of the below scenarios is best and I have missed a better scenario?

    Scenario 1: Get the 3bed tenant to put the gas, water and hydro in their name? They cover 60% of the bill and landlord covers 40% for all-inclusive units, until main and basement move out and new leases are issued with covering 20% of utilities per apartment.
    Scenario 2: Put the utilities in landlord name, arrange in lease for 3bed to pay $200 utilities per month & to cover 60% of utilities and in the event that utilities are over ask for more or credit back if under.

    What is the best way to tackle moving to rent +utilities, given main and basement are allinclusive?

    Also what’s the best way to divvy up utilities as a percentage? By square footage, # of bed or # of people?

    • Rachelle

      Utilities are a giant pain in my ass. The utility companies will probably not allow any of the tenants to put the bills in their names. There is no good way to tackle the problem of utilities except get a place that is separately metered.

      Basement tenants don;t pay utilities in most cases because basement tenants are low income and generally cannot handle the fluctuations in utility bills. Plus basement apartments are a hold back from when owners lived upstairs, and rent was done that way.

  • Jerry

    Hi Rachelle,

    I have an odd rental situation – renting a basement apartment, lease stated I pay for my unit’s electricity. After I moved in, I called Toronto Hydro to switch but asked for the average historical bill first. It was ~$300 every 2 months. I thought that was rather high and didn’t provide my info. In checking the utility room I find that the shared boiler pump, water heater and several outside fixtures are all connected to my meter. I told the landlord to install a separate meter for the shared loads and I wouldn’t switch until then. Any thoughts / pitfalls I should watch out for?

  • Just Curious

    I was just wondering if a landlord can legally have a house with 2 units listed as one… main floor has tenants and so does the basement, rent is all inclusive but both door bells ring to the upstairs tenant, landlord never resolved this issue… also we share a mailbox as the house is registered as just a house and mail has gone missing… is this legal? The basement tenants are stealing my mail, I live in Alberta and we have lost door to door delivery so both the upstairs tenants and the basement tenants still share the same mailbox which has a key yet still they steal my mail… should the house be listed as 2 units and both units have their own mailbox

  • Mike

    Hi Rachelle,

    I am wondering if I need to make utility contract for the period that the house is vacant.

    The tenancy agreement will end in two months, my tenant will leave the house and I am not sure if can find another tenant duly. She has the electricity and gas contracts in her name now (water is on me) and will end/transfer them when she moves out to another place.

    I just wanted to know if there is any regulation/law/legal obligation that calls for electricity and gas being available in the house while it’s completely vacant.


  • krystyn

    I recently moved into a 3 bedroom house there is an apartment in the basement I signed the lease at the beginning of the month then a couple days later was asked to switch the utilities into my name starting on the date of the lease.
    shortly after I found out that the basement tenant is not responsible for any utilities because I wasn’t planning on moving until mid month and once I had said that was when i found out I was paying for the basement as wrll which is a 1 bedroom with 3 occupants I seen in a previous post that Landlord and tenant does not deal with utilities but i just want to kmow what my rights are based on this.. also I wanted to know what would be considered a shared acomidation, my Landlord has told me that the Landlord and tenant act does not apply because this is a shared living accomidation. based on what i have read up on for shared acomidation means that you share a kitchen and or bathroom with the Landlord or landlords family or you live in the same space or rent a room. so I wonder if you can tell me if tjis is true in my case where the Landlord doesn’t even live on the property and the tenant downstairs has separate everything so I dont understand how my living is shared? Thank you

    • Rachelle

      Typically when you rent a duplex house, the utilities are a portion, for instance 75% for upper and 25% for basement and the landlord pays the basement portion. Maybe the rent is below market say $1500 instead of $1800 inclusive. I can’t say, it depends on the deal you made.

      Your house is not shared accommodation according to LTB standards.

      • Tammy

        My issue is I share a house with two other sweets downstairs and in Suite 1 and to think that they are in charge of the water downstairs and not letting me and my children have water to be able to do our dishes to take a shower take a bath and we’re not allowed to have hot water so And the caretaker to this place well he just clicks and that’s it and be at all don’t pay for the water out of the city does and the people that run this house what can I do

        • Tammy

          wasn’t supposed to say clicks it supposed to say collects rent. The lady in suite1 turns on her hot water so we upstairs can’t have hot water and the water pressure goes down .
          I’m looking for help or ideas to get help

          • Rachelle

            This is unfortunately a problem living in a shared house, you’ll just have to deal until you can afford to rent a whole house.

  • Daneca Leatherdale


    I am currently a tenant in a basement suite in a house that is divided up into two suites. I am responsible for 40% of the utilities and the tenants upstairs are responsible for the other 60%. When I moved in I was under the impression that the landlord would be collecting on utilities (though this isn’t in writing) so the tenants upstairs convinced the landlord to allow them to put the utilities in their name.

    Now, my power is shut off. I literally had to ask 5 times to see the bill and readily gave my portion of the rent when the bill was made available to me. Clearly the tenant upstairs isn’t paying the bill and this is now affecting me. Is there anything that I can do to resolve the situation without being out my damage deposit? I’ve only lived in this unit since December 2015.

  • Ann

    We are now moving out next month from a basement we have been renting. We are now using our deposit for our last month’s pay. So we thought we dont owe our landlord anything. Everything is settled. Just tonight, our landlord is asking us to pay 30% of the utility bills from December, since my mother staying with us since December. We dont have any written agreement that we have to pay additional rent due to my mom’s stay. We have informed our landlord about my the additional head and he was ok with that before. No charge per our verbal agreement. But now that we are leaving he suddenly wants us to pay the utilities. He gave us an amount that we need to pay. He did not even provide a copy of the bills. What should we do? Please advise. Thank you!

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