Posted on 5 Comments

Unpaid Water Bills

You are not liable for your tenant’s bills unless you agree in writing!

Local water authorities cannot make landlord pay former tenant’s past due water bill before turning on water for new tenant. They claim they can, because of their local “rules,” but that doesn’t make it legal. Anybody can make up rules for their handbooks. If you agree, then that’s a contract. Otherwise, it’s just wishful thinking on their part.

Ala Code Section 35-9-15 says, “The provider of goods or services may not require a landlord or real property owner to pay the delinquent bill of a tenant for goods or services provided to the tenant of the landlord if the account for the goods or services is in the name of the tenant. In addition, the provider of goods or services shall not have a lien on the real property for any goods or services provided in the name of the tenant.” Also, Section 35-9-14 says, “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any bill for sewer service received in the name of a tenant or tenants, shall be the sole responsibility of the tenant or tenants and shall not constitute a lien on the property where the sewer service was received.”

If local water authorities refuse to connect water for a new tenant just because the old one has an outstanding bill, show them a copy of this article. If that does not work, contact the attorney for the water authority.  Usually, THAT person knows how to read a statute and understand what it means.

5 thoughts on “Unpaid Water Bills

  1. Birmingham water company has put a lien against my property for a tenant before I even owned it and says it’s my responsibility to satisfy, they did say that I could send them a old lease showing the tenant and it might be removed BUT I NEVER HAD A LEASE WITH THAT TENANT ! ???

    1. Did you show them a copy of your deed?

  2. No I didn’t show them my deed, but i told them that I purchased the property from the state of alabama and the tenant was removed from the property. They did let me put water in my name but continue to say that they have a lien on the property for a tenant against the property .

    1. Jeff, everybody gets wonky when a tax deed is involved because there is some possibility the prior owner might get it back. Wait out the redemption time period, quiet title, and take them the quiet title order. Or get a release of redemption rights from the prior owner.

  3. No, I didn’t show them my deed but I did inform them that I had purchased the deed from the State of Alabama and removed tenant and they said that they have the right to put a lien against the property.

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