EDITORIAL: Landlords are best positioned to solve problem
Government doesn't have all the answers. For instance, some landlords find the city's sewer fee collection method problematic. When a tenant doesn't want to pay, landlords can be stuck with the bill. Tenants simply omit the cost from their utilit...
Government doesn't have all the answers.
For instance, some landlords find the city's sewer fee collection method problematic. When a tenant doesn't want to pay, landlords can be stuck with the bill. Tenants simply omit the cost from their utility payment without risking a loss of power, heat or water.
For the property owner who leases or rents out the building, notice of the omission isn't presented before July, when the city extends a courtesy notice warning the unpaid balance could be added to their property taxes if not paid by November. That could leave them with a hefty bill, especially if the amount due goes back to the previous year.
The city council's finance committee is looking for a solution. After all, it's a problem that developed a dozen years ago when the city found a less costly billing method by having Superior Water, Light and Power collect sewage treatment fees. While an admirable effort, this is one situation where landlords can solve the problem more easily than government. Councilor Kevin Norbie was on the right track when he suggested landlords cover the utility cost and pass the charge along to tenants.
While landlords bristle at the idea of paying heating costs for disrespectful tenants who leave doors or windows open during cold weather, no one is suggesting property owners cover gas, electricity or water expenses. Those utility costs are the users obligation. However, sewer fees are the obligation of the property owner, which is why the city charges the unpaid fees on the tax bill. Many landlords do it that way already. At the very least, they can include a statement about the tenant's obligation to pay the fee and any accrued finance charges in their written rental agreement. It would give property owners legal grounds to recoup the cost if a tenant proves to be a deadbeat.
It would certainly be a shame if the city changed its billing practices to a more costly, less convenient method for the majority of customers to solve a problem landlords could fix themselves.