When can I turn off my utilities?

Posted on July 11, 2016

When can I turn off my utilities? At the end of your lease period, after all repairs are completed.

Trying to save a buck by turning off your utilities early is tempting, especially if you aren’t going to be in your place toward the end of your lease. But, having no power in the home, and turning the AC and fridges off, can lead to mold, mildew, and an array of other, potentially very costly, issues. Having no water makes repair and return to readiness that much more difficult–and in fact you’d end up being responsible for either reconnecting it yourself, or for any costs we incur to do so. Your lease specifically requires you to maintain the utilities until after the lease end date and time and only after we have returned the home or apartment to move-in readiness….

Don’t do it. Leave the utilities on. You are required to do so.

Keeping the utilities on helps protect your place from damage plus it is required of you in your lease agreement:

  • Section 10. Utilities. Tenant, at Tenant’s expense, shall pay, prior to the delinquency date, for all Utilities. Tenant is also responsible for any deposits required by the utility companies. Tenant shall give Landlord at least three (3) days prior written notice before the Utilities are turned off or disconnected and utilities cannot be disconnected until the home or apartment is returned to move-in condition. Tenant shall run AC/Heat/Refrigerators during periods of extended leave at levels sufficient to prevent damages. Landlord shall not be liable for any loss or damage to Tenant or Tenant’s guests or property as a result of the failure or interruption of any Utilities. If Tenant is responsible for paying utilities and fails to turn the utilities on in tenant’s name or pay the utility bills, the landlord is not required to keep the utilities on if the utilities are on in the name of the landlord. Tenant is responsible for utility bills turned on for cleaning and repairs.

This is also reiterated in your Policies and Procedures, which are incorporated into your lease:

UTILITIES must remain on throughout the lease period and until the unit is processed for turnover. Any charges, fees, damages, or other costs resulting from any gap or discontinuation of services wherein landlord deems it necessary to turn on the utilities or otherwise must handle billing, payment, or connection of a utility, are solely the responsibility of the tenants. Administrative handling fees for landlord’s time and resources may also be charged to the tenant(s).

We know you may not be there. You may have graduated and are 1000s of miles away, but the home is still your responsibility and bad things happen to residences when the utilities are off. Its in your best interest. Moreover, your unit would be required to pay any costs of reconnecting service, an internal service fee, and any and all associated costs.

So, after the lease period and after we have completed all repairs, check. But when is that likely to be?

So, really, what’s the worst case? When can I set them to turn off?

You can expect it to be 1-2 weeks after the lease period. We do ALL the repairs for all our homes between the move out day and the next move-in day. Depending on where your unit is in the list and how much work needed to be done, this may not be completed until the day before the next tenants move in. We certainly hope not, but for a worst case answer, you can certainly turn them off by August 15 (for 2018)–check with us for other years. That’s the worst case….

Please note that incoming tenants should put utilities in their names, and when that happens, the utility companies generally do not allow service for one address under two names, so that would reduce the chances you accidentally pay for their power!

There are some things you can do to reduce energy utilization if everyone is gone. For example,

  1. Turn the AC up (not off!) to no higher than 78. This will keep the home from becoming excessively humid (and spawning mold or mildew and other issues) while saving money.
  2. Unplug all your energy vampires. They can be surprisingly hungry!
  3. Turn up the fridge. Thoroughly clean and turn up, but not off, the fridge. You can turn the fridge off but only if it is spotless. If it isn’t, you risk stuff growing. Really bad things can happen than can even necessitate replacing the entire refrigerator.

On a related note, if you ARE away for a period of time, please have someone check your place for safety and security

While you may not be there, your place is your responsibility. Lots of things can happen if you are absent from your place for a long period. From water damage, to leaky toilets, from break-ins, to who knows what else. Its always a good idea to have someone check in on the place every once in a while to catch any problems before they become even bigger problems! We’d even be happy to check something for you if you think you may have forgotten something or have a specific concern.