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Transfer Utilities

Guide to Transfer Utilities

If you are moving from one apartment to another, an important item on your moving to-do list is to transfer utility service from your old apartment to your new one. This might seem a little overwhelming — especially if you have a number of utilities to transfer – but it doesn’t have to be major trouble.

Generally, when renting or leasing a single family residence, the landlord pays for garbage sewer and water. One reason why landlords prefer to pay is because water, sewer and garbage are generally provided by government utilities. They consider the owner to be ultimately liable for the bill and have the right to put a lien on the property.

However, there are no laws requiring the landlord to pay for these items. Therefore, they are negotiable prior to signing a rental or lease agreement. Renters/tenants should always review a rental/lease agreement with a prospective landlord before agreeing to rent/lease a property. If you are renting or leasing an apartment, the typical agreement will have the landlord pay for garbage sewer and water. But again, this may vary by landlords. A good suggestion is to rent or lease from an established property management company. They will answer all of your questions and make certain that you know what you are getting into and who is paying for what prior to renting or leasing a property.

Ask the landlord who will be responsible for paying for utilities (gas, electric, water, and trash collection). You will probably be responsible for some, and possibly all, of them. Try to find out how much the previous tenant paid for utilities. This will help you be certain that you can afford the total amount of the rent and utilities each month. With increasing energy costs, it’s important to consider whether the rental unit and its appliances are energy efficient. If the rental unit is a house or duplex with a yard, ask the landlord who will be responsible for taking care of the yard. If you will be, ask whether the landlord will supply necessary equipment, such as a lawn mower and a hose.

Rental units in older buildings may not have separate water meters or sub-meters. California law does not specifically regulate how landlords bill tenants for water and sewer utilities. Ask the landlord if the rental unit that you plan to rent has its own water meter or sub-meter. If it does not, and if the landlord will bill you for water or sewer utilities, be sure that you understand how the landlord will calculate the amount that you will be billed.

Some buildings have a single gas or electric meter that serves more than one rental unit. In other buildings, a tenant’s gas or electric meter may also measure gas or electricity used in a common area, such as the laundry room or the lobby. In situations like these, the landlord must disclose to you that utility meters are shared before you sign the rental or lease agreement.  Shared utilities If the utility meter for your rental unit is shared with another unit or another part of the building, then the landlord must reach an agreement with you on who will pay for the shared utilities. This agreement must be in writing (it can be part of the rental agreement or lease), and can consist of one of the following options:

  • The landlord can pay for the utilities provided through the meter for your rental unit by placing the utilities in the landlord’s name;
  • The landlord can have the utilities in the area outside your rental unit put on a separate meter in the landlord’s name;
  • You can agree to pay for the utilities provided through the meter for your rental unit to areas outside your rental unit.

Follow these simple instructions how to transfer utilities:

Make a list of utility services
Start the transfer by making a list of the utilities you currently use. List the utilities you have, which companies handle those services, and how much on average you pay per month to use those utilities. Leave enough space by each utility to jot down notes about the transfer details.

Get utility services details from your new apartment community
If you can, talk to your new apartment community management about the utility services situation at your new apartment, taking careful notes.

  • Ask if any utility services are included with your rent. For instance, one apartment community might include your water bill in the rent, while another might offer a free Internet connection.
  • Ask if there are any exclusive utility providers for the apartment community or the area. Depending on how far you are moving, you might have to switch providers for utilities, such as cable, rather than simply transfer service between addresses.
  • Ask if there are any preferred utility providers for the apartment community. A certain provider might offer a discount to residents of the apartment community.

Call your utility services
Next, you will want to check online or call the utility services to initiate service or to schedule transfers.

  • Ask what you will need to secure in order to transfer utilities. Is a deposit required? Will you need to be present when the old utilities are turned off or the new utilities turned on? This is a good time to set up any necessary appointments.
  • Ask if there are any discounts for starting new service at your new apartment.
  • Ask if there are any ways to lower your utility bill. This might be a good time to examine your utility services and see if there are features you are not using.

Call to confirm
Shortly before your move, call each utility service to confirm that your utilities will be transferred to your new apartment, and confirm any appointments needed to turn on service. Have your notes with you when you make these calls in case there are any questions.

Start early
If possible, don’t leave your utility transfer until the last minute. For certain utility services, it might take a few days for the paperwork to go through on the transfer. Leaving enough time will help the transfer go more smoothly.

Your checklist to transfer utilities

  • Make a list of your current utility services.
  • Get utility services details from your new apartment community.
    • Take notes during the conversation.
    • Ask if any utility services are included with your rent.
    • Ask if there are any exclusive utility providers for the apartment community or the area.
    • Ask if there are any preferred utility providers for the apartment community.
  • Call your utility services.
    • Keep notes on details and who you talk with.
    • Ask what you will need to transfer utilities.
    • Set up any appointments needed to turn on utilities.
    • Ask if there are any discounts for starting new service at your new apartment.
    • Ask if there are any ways to lower your utility bill.
    • Call to confirm utility transfer shortly before you move.
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