Landlords don't always take care of basic utility bills at rental properties

(WXYZ) - We have an important alert for anyone who lives in a rental property, or has a son or daughter in a rental property.

Most of us assume the landlord takes care of basic things, like the lights in the hall and the water bill.

If you rent a home or apartment, do you know who is responsible for paying all the utility bills?  Here's a consumer alert that could prevent you from having your water shut off without warning.

Larry Fisher turned on his faucet, but no water comes out.  All he has is a jug from the supermarket.

Fisher and his wife Tanisha have been living without water for days.  They say the landlord did not pay the water bill, even though a receipt shows they paid this month's rent.

"He says he doesn't have any funds to pay the water," Fisher said. So I said what are we supposed to do? He said can't you come up with the money to pay the water? I said that was supposed to be part of the agreement."

It's a crisis that could hit any renter, if you are not careful at move in time.

Every state in the nation has so-called "habitability laws," stating that rental units must have working plumbing and electric, and a supply of fresh water.

That means the landlord pays the water bill, unless the lease says otherwise.

The landlord claims he does not have the money for the bill, and wants the tenants to pay this time.

A spokeswoman for the water department said they would turn the water back on, temporarily, until they can determine who is ultimately responsible.

Tanisha wants the misery to end.

Don't let this happen to you:  make sure any lease you sign says in writing who is responsible for paying the utilities.

If you still have questions, call your water and electric supplier and make sure all the bills are up to date for your rental...so you don't waste your money.

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