2013 Wisconsin Act 274 grants landlords’ additional protection from tenants’ unpaid utility bills becoming tax liens on the landlords’ property. The new law requires utilities to comply with the following procedures:
- A municipal utility must send bills for service to a customer who is a tenant in the tenant’s own name.
- A municipal utility must provide notice to a landlord of a tenant’s arrears within 14 days of the charges becoming past due.
- If the landlord notifies the utility that a tenant has vacated the dwelling while utility charges are in arrears and, within 21 days of the tenant vacating the dwelling, the utility must continue to send past-due notices to the tenant at the forwarding address until either the charges have been paid or the utility has started the procedure for collecting the charges as a tax lien.
- A municipal utility must send the notice that unpaid charges will become a lien on the property (the “October 15 notice”) to the tenant and to the owner.
If the utility attempts to collect unpaid service charges as a tax lien against the property, the new law grants the utility a lien on the assets of the tenant.
If the landlord pays the service charge, the lien can be transferred to the landlord. Specific notice provision must be followed by the utility and the landlord to enforce the lien.
For more information follow this link: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2013/related/lcamendmemo/sb517.pdf or contact Attorney Michael J. Bauer.