Landlords with rental properties with only one unit being fed by a single meter can choose to have the utility bill sent directly to the tenant in the tenant's name, or they can keep the utility bill in their name and get reimbursed by the tenant in another way. Details on both methods and how they affect the landlord, as well as links to additional useful information, can be found below.
Utility Bill Mailed to the Tenant
If the La Crosse Utilities bill is in the tenant's name, and they do not pay, utility past due balances will ultimately become the responsibility of the landlord-property owner. This is because the La Crosse Utilities Bill is a lien against the property served by the water service. This means that the property owner is responsible for all charges issued for the property. If someone owns the parcel, they own the La Crosse Utilities bill charges that are attached to the parcel whether it is owner occupied or a rental.
The Utilities recommend that landlords contact the La Crosse Utilities Office notifying them of any changes in utility accounts (such as move-ins/outs), verify tenant payments are being made timely, and keep their own contact information current with the utility department so that you can be contacted in the event of an emergency and notified of any tenant account delinquencies.
Landlords also have the ability to create an online profile with our E-billing and payment processing vendor Payment Service Network (PSN) to monitor tenant accounts. With PSN, you can have one login and connect multiple accounts, so that you can view billing history and the current balance of all of your tenant accounts, without having to use the site for making payments.
When a tenant is moving in or moving out, please call, email or go online to notify the utility of the changes at least 3 business days prior to the date you want the final meter reading to be taken.
A meter reading will be obtained on the date requested and a final bill is issued to the tenant vacating the premises or to the landlord.
The following information is required to request service changes:
- Email or mailing address to send Final Bill
- Full Name of new tenant (First, MI, Last)
- Billing Address of new tenant
- Phone number of new tenant
- Date of Birth (If there is no Middle Initial)
The following list includes a variety of additional options Landlords can implement to protect their investment:
- Do a credit check on prospective tenants.
- 2Require a co-signer on the lease.
- Have service in the landlord's name and recover the cost of utility service by increasing the rent.
- Add language to the rental lease to make tenancy dependent on payment of the utility bills.
- Deduct unpaid utility bills from the tenant's security deposit.
In addition, for residential tenant accounts only, landlords can complete a Landlord-Tenant Agreement that is signed by both the tenant and the landlord and turned into the La Crosse Utilities Office. With this agreement in place on an account, a lien will be placed on the tenant’s assets for any delinquencies subject to the tax roll on an annual basis. Details on this additional step can be found on the Landlord-Tenant Agreement Information page.
Please note: It is very important we get new tenant information in a timely manner. If the name and information for a new tenant is not provided to the utility at the time of a prior tenant moving out, the utility account and billing will be placed in the property owner’s name and mailing address. It is equally important the utility is provided with forwarding information on tenants who are moving out. If the utility is not informed of a move-out, the utility bills may not be forwarded to the correct responsible party, resulting in delinquencies.
Benefits of Requesting a Final Bill for a Tenant Change
Final bills help determine:
- Future and current billable account charges
- Water meter replacement charges in case a meter was damaged, broken, or stolen.
- Possible water leaks within the property
Important: The Utility Billing date should not be used in determining what amounts a tenant is responsible for. The bill date may be up 2-4 weeks AFTER the last meter reading. It is highly recommended that a final read be taken each time a tenant moves in or move out, whether the bill is in the tenant name or the landlord name, to ensure the tenants are being charged for their actual usage. This is especially important in La Crosse since the utility only obtains water readings once every three months.
If a final bill is not obtained at the time of a tenant change, it will be between the tenant and the landlord to determine how much of the quarterly bill is the responsibility of each party based on the meter read dates on the next bill. Without a meter reading when a tenant moves out/in, there is no way for the utility to determine what portion of the water/sewer usage charges should be their responsibility.
Utility Bill Mailed to the Landlord
If the La Crosse Utilities bill is in the landlord/property owner's name, the Utilities recommend that landlords contact the La Crosse Utilities Office to obtain final reads when tenants move in and out, as outlined above, and keep their own contact information current with the utility department so that you can be contacted in the event of an emergency.
Landlords also have the ability to create an online profile with our E-billing and payment processing vendor Payment Service Network (PSN) to view archived statements of past bills and pay online. With PSN, you can have one login and connect multiple accounts, so that they can pay online using multiple payment sources, view billing history and current balances for each account.