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    this8384's Avatar
    this8384 Posts: 4,565, Reputation: 485
    Ultra Member

    Dec 28, 2007, 05:47 AM
    Tenants' unpaid utilies on my taxes, how to collect?
    I own rental property in Wisconsin. I had a tenant move out at the end of September. His lease stated that prior to him vacating, he would need to provide me with copies showing all of his utilities were paid. He moved out without paying. Now, $272 of his utility bill has been transferred to my property taxes and he still has a $241 with the city after the partial transfer to the taxes. I called him last night to talk to him about this; he took the phone from his wife and hung up on me. My taxes are due at the end of January and I don't have any extra money floating around.

    I'm wondering what would be the easiest way to collect this money? I know where he works, am I allowed to file a garnishment without a court judgment? Or do I need to turn this over to collections? Am I allowed to request the entire bill or only what has been put on my taxes?
    Emland's Avatar
    Emland Posts: 2,468, Reputation: 496
    Ultra Member

    Dec 28, 2007, 07:33 AM
    I really don't understand how the utilities got transferred over to your taxes, but for a simple answer:

    You need to sue the tenant for the monies owed, plus your costs. Get a judgement then the garnishment.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Dec 28, 2007, 08:05 AM
    I'm also curious as to how the utilities got added to your tax bill. I've never heard of that happening.

    But emland is right, you cannot garnish his salary without a court order. To get a court order you will need to sue him in small claims court.

    If you are going to operate rental property, you should have some reserves for situations like this.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,272, Reputation: 7690

    Dec 28, 2007, 08:14 PM
    Yes, as for as I know a bill from another person can not be put on your taxes, even if the utilties are done by the city, this is still a separate business and iis not connected to the city tax or county tax bill.

    Now if you allowed the utilities to stay in your name and you had them paying them, well they still can't add it to your taxes.

    But yes you can sue them for this, but I am not sure I would not be suing the tax authorities.
    this8384's Avatar
    this8384 Posts: 4,565, Reputation: 485
    Ultra Member

    Dec 29, 2007, 07:11 AM
    I know, I think it's a bunch of crap. I don't know if it's the state rule or the city, but I've owned the house since 2004 and every time a tenant hasn't paid, it gets put on my taxes. I was really upset the first time I found out, to say the least.

    As for reserves, I wish I had some. I've gotten screwed over so many times and small claims does nothing to help me collect any of the money I'm owed. So here I sit, dumping my own money into this house month after month, with nothing to show for it... that's life for you *lol*
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,272, Reputation: 7690

    Dec 29, 2007, 07:34 AM
    I would challenge their rights to add this, honestly they can not add things to your taxes or bill you if you are not liable and then not without a court hearning,

    Of course that is why you need to have a large enough deposit to cover all of this.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
    Computer Expert and Renaissance Man

    Dec 29, 2007, 08:10 AM
    Yes, winning a judgement is easy, collecting is the Catch-22 of small claims court.

    I also agree with Chuck, I would ask for the specific statute or rule that allows them to add unpaid utilities to your taxes. They have to provide that info.
    excon's Avatar
    excon Posts: 21,482, Reputation: 2992
    Uber Member

    Dec 29, 2007, 08:45 AM
    Hello this:

    I don't know if adding them to your taxes is bad. It's certainly better than dunning you, sending you to collections, charging interest, and eventually suing you.

    If it's on your taxes, you pay it, what, only every two years?? No interest?? No duns?? No collection?? Don't sound bad to me.

    this8384's Avatar
    this8384 Posts: 4,565, Reputation: 485
    Ultra Member

    Jan 5, 2008, 06:17 AM
    I actually did call the state, Chuck. The guy I talked to said that the state absolutely can add a tenants' unpaid utilities to my tax roll. I think I may just call them back today and ask for that statute; I didn't think of that when I was on the phone with them. As for the deposit, that ends up going towards my mortgage because they usually skip out on rent in addition to the utilities.

    Where do you live, ex? I have never in my life heard of paying property taxes on a bi-annual basis. I don't have the money to pay the extra that got put onto the taxes, so I end up paying a fine for my taxes being late as well as interest on the amount that is still unpaid. So to sum it up: Yes, it is bad. It's the issue of me being forced to pay a bill that isn't even mine.
    Cvillecpm's Avatar
    Cvillecpm Posts: 553, Reputation: 28
    Senior Member

    Jan 5, 2008, 02:55 PM
    Actually - they can be put unpaid utilities on the property owner's taxes which is why owners in jurisdictions with utility LEVY rights should always call the utility company for a clearance of paid bills BEFORE returning former tenant's deposit...

    You need to pay your taxes and sue the tenant in Small Claims Court... check your court website for how to do it in your state.

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