Fulton Utility Board considers adding landlord liability to late bills

Those who sign up would receive shut-off notices for delinquent accounts

A preliminary ordinance that would make landlords and renters alike responsible for late utility bills was considered at the Fulton Utility Board’s monthly meeting Monday.

In an effort to eat fewer losses on unpaid bills when tenants leave, while keeping landlords in the loop regarding utility shutoffs affecting their property, the board discussed the ordinance that would update billing code allowing landlords to opt in to take on joint liability for their tenants’ accounts.

Chief Financial Officer Kathy Holschlag told the board that discussion on the ordinance came about when landlords asked if they could receive notice when tenants in their properties were flagged for shutoff. Current policy prohibits the city from disclosing utility information to anyone other than the customers.

“We wanted to see if they could be made responsible for the bill,” Holschlag said. “If they are jointly liable, when we flag the account, everyone will get notice.”

Utilities Superintendent Darrell Dunlap said that being conscious of delinquent accounts and pending shutoffs on their properties is beneficial for landlords. If heat is cut off for a few days in winter months, pipes can freeze and other damage to the property can arise.

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