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Utility Setup

Posted by evun (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 8, 07 at 23:56

Hi,

First time renter here, still not sure if I have been accepted or not and the move-in date has been set a week from now. I just wanted to know whether I should go ahead and call up to create accounts for gas, electrical, and phone at this moment or after the lease is actually been signed? If the latter, wouldn't that leave me with no gas, electrical... when I move in (obviously)? How does it actually work?

Thank You

P.S. I know, I forgot to ask but I am going to check the apartment 3 days prior to the move-in and signing the lease.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Utility Setup

Call the util. co's to find out how much time they need. Then call the apt. people again, tell them you need to arrange the above and how much time you need. You may have to move in late if utils aren't hooked up on time, and you could ask for the lease to reflect that (why pay for time not living there?) if the apt's slowness keeps the util. guys from starting up.


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RE: Utility Setup

If you don't know if you've been accepted or not, don't proceed just yet. You'll have a mess to untangle. (If move in date is only a week away, why don't you know yet if you've been accepted?)

Here's how I handle it as a landlord:

My tenants pay their own utilities. That is stipulated in the lease. If this is the first time you've held utilities in your name, the companies are probably going to require an application and a deposit from you before they will start an account in your name. Around here that can be done in 20 minutes at water department and on the phone with gas/electric company. They each request 3 - 4 business days notice before a service change over so they can send someone out to read the meter on the date requested. Doesn't always take that long, they just prefer to have some lead time. They don't work on Sat or Sun so some degree of trust is required. If a tenant wants to move in on Sat., utilities will have to start in their name on Friday, and tenant is just going to have to trust that I won't turn the furnace up to 90 on Friday morning and walk away. ;) That won't happen, because I never go from one tenant straight to another. There is a period of time for clean-up, repairs, etc. and utilities are rolled into my name for that period. Last thing I want is a big utility expense on the books, so I keep usage as low as possible.

So utilities are to start the day of move-in, but typically the lease is signed at least several days prior to that. I ask to see the receipt from the utility company when we sign the lease. Then I call the utility company to verify that service is set to start the day the lease is set to start. Telephone hookup doesn't matter to me, since it has no impact on healthy living or structural integrity. (What I don't want is to find myself in a situation where there is no heat on subzero days, no water turned on, etc.)

If you are looking at move-in for next week, I would have a signed lease now, but dated to start next week. I would suggest you hold off till you've got confirmation that you've been accepted and then promptly get the ball rolling so utilities are ready when you are. I don't understand why you're in the dark at this late stage as to whether you've been accepted. Landlord knows this is leaving you in a pinch. At any rate, if your acceptance is 'verbal' do not order those utilities until you've signed a lease. If your acceptance is written, go ahead and order them for the day the lease is to start. If something falls through and you don't get the place and learn of it after you've applied for utilities, call right away and cancel utilities before the meter ever starts clicking under your name.

Honestly though, with move in a week away you need to know whether you've been accepted. That's the critical missing element. ;)


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RE: Utility Setup

Thanks everyone for your insight. The reason I haven't been informed is because I locked the apartment last Saturday and they told me the apartment wouldn't be ready until Wednesday, tomorrow -- apparently it had just gotten vacant last Thursday and they needed 5 days to do the maintenance. But the agent I talked to, according to my documents submitted, I would have no problem being approved; besides, I don't have any criminal background and my credit card score is above 800.

The management told me that I am going to sign the lease on the day of move-in which is the next Monday and that is stated in our agreement. But the apartment would be ready this Wednesday, 4 days prior to lease sign. Can I sign the lease then (tomorrow) or should even thinking about it? I just wanted to walk-through the house and tell them what I think it needs to be taken care of so if I encounter a foul play, don't have to postponed the move-in (which is not a big deal because I stay with my parents a bit longer).

I have already line up what utility companies I am going to call. The biggest hurdle, and you may disagree with me on this, would be the phone company as they usually take longer and I really need the Internet.

Sincerely,


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RE: Utility Setup

Well, if you're not a criminal and with that credit score, I'd say you're a shoe-in ;)

Sure, you can sign the lease tomorrow (Wed) but have it dated to start next Monday, if your landlord is agreeable and you find nothing left to fix. But if you walk through and there are still odds and ends left to do, I wouldn't sign till those are all done to your satisfaction.

You're kind of getting down to the wire now. If you can get something in writing from them that you're accepted, order utilities, request they start Monday but advise them there might be conditions that delay it a week, perhaps utility companies can work with you. Otherwise you'll be charged with a week's worth of utilities that you're not using. I guess what I'm saying is that it's pretty much what is within your comfort level, but until you know definitely that you're getting in, I wouldn't go any further just yet.

Understand about the internet, you're not alone. That is nearly always the first question I get asked, well that and if there's cable TV hookup ;) Once it's established those hook ups are already wired in or available, then discussions move to heat and water ;D


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RE: Utility Setup

I see what you are saying but tomorrow I'm definitely heading there to see what it's going on. But I am not planning to do a thorough walk-through, just see the apartment in general and make some measurements. For the first time renter, I don't know if the landlords provide some grace period for utilities; that is, would they schedule to turn-off the power/water... right before the move-in or perhaps a day or two after?

I can live without cable/TV and as a matter of fact, I am not ordering any service as I can get everything off the Internet. Then again, for the Internet you either have to pay for the cable or the phone service and I think the latter is more vital.

For the gas I am a bit hesitant to decide between fixed rate or variable. Assessing more than 20 companies, the fixed rate (6/12 months) doesn't sound terrible but once in a while, you bump in to a company which offers an extremely low price for variable rate that makes it hard to resist. But I am sure they would jack up the price in matter of no time.

Another reason I am so tight in time is because I managed to evaluate more than 65 complexes and visit half of them. This one obviously is not the top notch but the location and price was very attractive. And the units were being signed off quickly so I had no choice in diving in to reserve one of the decent locations.


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RE: Utility Setup

would they schedule to turn-off the power/water... right before the move-in or perhaps a day or two after? Typically no, because in my area that involves fees, to shut off and again to turn back on. Best to keep service consistently on and just do a name change. Another option is if this gets kind of floopy is to see if you can reimburse (or pay in advance) utilities directly to the landlord until the utility account starts in your name. Again, depends on how flexible they are, etc.

For the gas I am a bit hesitant to decide between fixed rate or variable. I have a relative who has worked for the local power company for years. They do not like the 'fixed rate', basically say it's a rip off. If you have lower usage in some months but still have to pay the higher fixed rate, then power company ends up with 'overage'. So that's $$ they get to invest. Add it all up for thousands of customers in a month and that's a tidy little profit (or the CEO's whopping bonus). The only times it would really help are months where you use more (coldest of winter) but pay less due to the average. In my area once a year in spring they evaluate the year's usage and do an adjusted invoice, either a credit toward future bills or a charge for not enough $ paid. You can readily learn to anticipate what your utilities will be, and you sound like a thorough and intelligent person, I'd recommend paying as you go, that way you get full advantage of your cash instead of the power company ;)

Another reason I am so tight in time is because I managed to evaluate more than 65 complexes and visit half of them. Whoa, you have been busy! I hope everything goes smoothly for you and you find your first place everything you hope it to be ;D


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RE: Utility Setup

"Best to keep service consistently on and just do a name change."

By that you are referring to using the same company to service the utility and only switching the name of the account? What if the company I select is different from what the current unit is actually operating on?

"They do not like the 'fixed rate', basically say it's a rip off."

No wonder they usually insist in signing up with the fixed rate; even the local news stations encourage to go with the fixed rate. But I am a thrifty type person, I use what I need, no more, no less, in moderation -- that's why I decided to go with no roommate. I have managed to dig up a company where its variable rate stands around 0.68 per therm which is by far the lowest. I know one individual who use them as his gas provider so I might get a hold of his statements see if there are any catches.

"you find your first place everything you hope it to be"

After living 23 years in a cozy house, I highly doubt any place would replace what I have come to accustom. But you got to be reasonable and expectations should be judicious. I am just hoping my place wouldn't crawl with rodents and reek with roaches and bugs. And pets... Why, why, why people persist in imprisoning these creatures in a tiny apartments where you can find more stain of poo-nuggets than sands on a beach.


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RE: Utility Setup

By that you are referring to using the same company to service the utility and only switching the name of the account?

Yes.

What if the company I select is different from what the current unit is actually operating on?

Ah, you have choices. In my area we don't. There is only one gas/electric company. So I don't know how that would be handled, whether current Company A would shut off service and Current Company B would then turn it back on. That would be something worth asking the utility company.


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