Check your lease. If you are supposed to pay the utilities under your lease, keep paying them. If you have a shared utility meter, see our fact sheet, Shared Utility Meters.
If the utility bill is in your landlord’s name, try to contact the landlord and get them to pay the utility bills. If that does not work, you can contact the utility company and arrange to pay only for the current month’s charges. If you do this, you are not responsible for the landlord’s unpaid bills or late fees.
If you live in a 1-4 family building, you have the option to take over the gas and electric accounts in your name. You are NOT responsible for putting down a deposit or paying any late charges or fees that belong to the landlord. You need to send your landlord a copy of the receipt showing the amount you paid, then you can take that amount out of your next month’s rent.
Another option is to file a rent escrow or emergency relief case against your landlord. Ask a judge to make your landlord pay the bill or cancel your lease. There is more information on all of these options in our fact sheet, Utility Shutoffs When the Landlord Owes the Bill.
The bank is sometimes interested in making sure that the property does not fall apart during the redemption period, since they are the new owner. If the building doesn’t have heat, water, electricity, or other important utilities, you may be able to get the bank to pay the utility service.
Try contacting the lawyer listed on the mortgage foreclosure notice and tell them about the problem. If you paid to get the utilities turned back on, or to avoid a shut-off, make sure you send a copy of the receipt showing that you paid. You can deduct that amount from your rent.
You may also file an Emergency Tenant Remedy Action against the bank, or other new owner, once the redemption period is over. See our fact sheet Utility Shut-Offs When the Landlord Owes the Bill.