You’ll likely need the power on when you show the property.  And if you are accepting Section 8 (Housing Choice) vouchers, you will be required to have the utilities on when you show the property.

It costs you about $50 just to have the electricity turned on in your name.  But if you register the property with Georgia Power Company as a “rental property,” they will only charge you the turn-on fee once.  After that, when a resident moves out, they will automatically place the account in your name without charge. 

It stays that way until the new resident moves in.  When you call the power company, ask for the “continuous service plan.”  They mail you a LANDLORD AGREEMENT FORM, and once you have paid an initial turn-on fee, you’re set for now and for the future.

Recently, Georgia Power has a new program that makes it much more difficult for a property manager to turn on the power.  Unfortunately, they have no competition, so there’s not much we can do about it.

WARNING: Under the continuous service plan, a resident could move into your rental house and “forget” to call the power company. He still has power, and you are paying for it.  Always tell the resident that his electricity will be turned off on a certain date unless he calls Georgia Power.

Always make sure that ALL utilities, including WATER, are turned on in the name of the resident.  This may require you requesting a final bill from the utility company which will result in the service being physically disconnected if the resident doesn’t activate service in his name.  

Be sure to notify the resident, and make it his responsibility to see that service is placed in his name in a timely manner.  Remind the tenant that the lease REQUIRES that utilities be active at all times.

DO NOT allow the resident to “take over” your account.

DO NOT keep the utilities in your name, and let the resident reimburse you. You will never see the money.

DO NOT offer to pay ANY utilities you don’t have to.

When a resident perceives that any utility is free, the amount used skyrockets.

I have had residents run up water bills of over $1000 in less than a month.  I can’t imagine what you would have to do to use $1,000 worth of water!  How many people would you have to invite over for a glass of water (or even a whole shower) to use that much water in one month?  

I have had gas bills of over $500 on a small house.  Even after I learned better, I still get calls from the collection department of the gas and electric company trying to find my previous residents who left with bills owing.  

No matter what it takes, never agree to pay utilities.