Tenant Billing FAQs

A Tenant Billing Agreement signed by the tenant (or land-contract purchaser) and property owner provides a convenient way for tenants to pay the water/sewer bill. The owner will receive a copy of all bills.

Can a water/sewer bill for a rental property be put into a tenant's name?

Yes, through a Tenant Billing Agreement(PDF, 139KB) between the owner and tenant. This was created as a customer convenience for owners who would like their tenants to pay their own water/sewer bills.

The owner will receive a copy of the bill in order to monitor any payment delinquencies or unusually high bills that may indicate a malfunctioning toilet or other leak on the property. However, this arrangement does not absolve the owner's responsibility (see next question.)

If the bill is not paid, who is ultimately responsible for the unpaid charges?

While the bill is in the tenant's name and the city can pursue a tenant who skips out on a bill through a collection agency, if the bill remains unpaid, the owner is ultimately responsible for the balance.

In the case of delinquent water charges, a new tenant will be unable to get a tenant billing agreement for that property until the water charges are paid. If the water has been turned off due to non-payment, the balance must be paid to turn the water back on and reconnection fees will apply.

Unpaid sewer charges will be certified on the property's county taxes per city code, something known as sewer certification. This is because sewer service cannot be shut off like water service can in order to force payment on a past due account.

What are the reasons for this arrangement?

It is required in Columbus City Code that the owner be responsible for the unpaid bill.

The Columbus Department of Public Utilities does not collect deposits for water and sewer bills; however, landlords do usually collect deposits. Landlords can, and should, check to make sure past due utility charges are paid before refunding a tenant's deposit. The number to call is 614-645-8276, Monday - Friday, 7AM to 6PM.

If the delinquencies were transferred to tenants, it is likely that delinquencies would increase, potentially resulting in higher rates, which could also have an effect on the city's credit rating used for low-interest capital improvement loans.

Are any improvements or changes on the horizon that landlords should be aware of?

Yes. As automatic/advanced metering technology advances, those systems have the potential of moving Columbus toward monthly billing. The department is studying the benefits of those systems. If a cost effective way to move to monthly billing is found, keeping up with bills would become easier for customers and past due accounts would come to light sooner.

Are there things a tenant or landlord can do to control water/sewer bills?

Yes. Assistance with Utility Bills covers the topics below.

Low income and senior discounts are available for qualified customers meeting income guidelines.

Payment plans (by calling 645-8276) and credit card payments are available. Learn more about payment plans or apply online. Monthly payments can be made on quarterly bills to keep the balance down. Pay online.

Everyone can lower their water/sewer bills by limiting consumption through water conservation and repairing leaks quickly. Learn more ways to Reduce Your Bill.