Unless otherwise arranged, La Crosse Utility bills are set up in the property owner's name and are sent to the owner's mailing address. Owners may make arrangements with tenants for payments of the account if they choose. It is the sole responsibility of the owner to ensure the bill is paid. Defaults in payments of any charges shall become a lien on the property, pursuant to state law.
Any Residential Water, Sewer and Storm account, as well as non-residential water and sewer account, can be billed to a tenant. For non-residential storm water accounts, the account must stay in the name of the property owner.
In accordance with Wisconsin Statute 66.0809, if a owner requests a residential rental tenant be billed for utility service in writing, certain statutory provisions will apply to provide some protection for the landlord should the tenant become delinquent. For the La Crosse Utilities Office, this must be done by completing the most current version of the Landlord-Tenant Agreement, a copy of which can be found here.
If a Landlord/Tenant Agreement is on file for a residential rental tenant, the following Notice and Lien Process will apply
Delinquent Notices: When there is a Landlord/Tenant Agreement on file, if a tenant fails to pay their quarterly billing by the due date, the property owner (hereinafter referred to as “landlord”) will be mailed a notice that outlines the delinquent balance within 14 days of the application of late fees.
Tenant Vacates Premises: If the tenant vacates the premises and the landlord wants the Utilities Office to continue sending quarterly billing statements to the tenant, the landlord must ensure the tenant has provided a forwarding address or the Landlord must provide the Utilities Office with written notice that contains the forwarding address of the tenant and reference the date that the tenant vacated the premises. Notification must be provided to the La Crosse Utilities Office no later than 21 days after the date on which the tenant vacated the rental unit.
IMPORTANT: If the tenant vacates the rental property, and the landlord plans to take the balance of a tenant’s final bill from the security deposit rather than have the tenant pay the Utilities directly, the landlord must contact the Utilities Office to inactivate the Landlord/Tenant Agreement.
The tenant should also contact the Utilities Office once the security deposit is settled to verify the landlord has inactivated the agreement with the Utilities Office. This is recommended to prevent a statutory lien being placed against the tenant should the account still have an unpaid balance on October 1st .
Pre-Tax Notice (October 2): Both the landlord and the tenant will be mailed a notice of the amount owed on October 2nd of each year for any charges incurred prior to October 1st . Once this notice has been sent, a statutory lien is created against the tenant’s personal assets. If the tenant pays the total amount due (including the tax penalty if paid after November 1st ) by November 15th , the lien will automatically be extinguished. If the landlord pays the full amount owed before the tenant, the lien will be transferred to the landlord. The lien may then be enforced with the La Crosse County Clerk of Court by the lienholder as outlined in the “Lien Process” section below.
Tax Penalty (November 1): If full payment has not been made to the La Crosse Utilities by November 1st , an additional penalty of 10% will be added to the balances owed to each utility (Water, Sanitary Sewer, and Storm Water).
Tax Transfer (November 15): If both the tenant and landlord fail to pay the full amount owed to the Utilities by November 15th , the Utilities will transfer the past due balance, plus penalties, to the real estate tax roll as a special charge levied against the landlord’s property.
In addition, the Utilities will file a report with the La Crosse County Clerk of Courts of all delinquent residential tenants that have a statutory lien against their personal assets, if any unpaid balance is transferred to the real estate tax roll. After November 15th , payments toward the past due balance, plus penalties, will not be accepted until the real estate tax bills are generated in mid-December.
Wisconsin law requires the Utilities to transfer its lien on the tenant’s personal assets to the landlord if the landlord pays the full amount, plus penalties, owed by the tenant, any time after October 2nd , and provides the La Crosse Utilities with a receipt for proof of payment. It is the responsibility of the landlord to bring the proof of payment to the La Crosse Utilities Office in order to obtain the Transfer of Lien form that must be completed by Utility staff. With the Transfer of Lien form, the landlord may then take action to enforce the lien against the tenant’s personal assets, provided a notice of a lien is first filed with the La Crosse County Clerk of Court by April 15th . The Clerk of Courts will then file the notice of the lien in the judgment and lien docket and the lien will appear under the tenant’s name in the Wisconsin Consolidated Court Automated Program (CCAP). The landlord is obligated to file a satisfaction of lien with the La Crosse
County Clerk of Courts within 7 days after the tenant satisfies the lien.
This information is provided in accordance with Wis. Stat. § 66.0809 (3m)(a) and (b).