Your landlord can require that the utility bill for your rental unit be put directly in your name, or they can require you to pay for the bill that is in their name. If the utility bill is in your landlord’s name, you can ask to see a copy of the bill when you are required to pay it. If you are required to have utilities in your name, you will be responsible for contacting the utility company and setting up an account.
When you are searching for rental housing, it is important to find out how much you will have to pay for utilities. If you have bad credit, or have never had an account before, you may be required to pay a deposit to the utility company, on top of an installation/activation fee. Also, keep in mind that buildings with electrical heating will have much higher hydro bills. As a result, you could be paying hundreds of dollars per month in the winter in order to heat your home.
Unconscionable term: According to Residential Tenancy Branch Policy Guideline 1,
a term in a tenancy agreement which requires a tenant to put the electricity, gas or other utility billing in his or her name for premises that the tenant does not occupy, is likely to be found unconscionable.
Eviction: If you fail to pay for utilities charges you owe, your landlord can give you a 10 Day Eviction Notice, but only after giving you 30 days written notice demanding payment. See TRAC’s webpage, Evictions, for more information.
If you live in a detached unit (e.g. house, townhouse, manufactured home, etc.), and are paying for hydro, you may qualify for the Energy Conservation Assistance Program. Through this program, you can receive:
- a free evaluation of your unit,
- free installation of energy saving products:
- energy saving LED light bulbs
- efficient shower heads and faucet aerators
- fridge/freezer thermometers
- door weatherstripping
- upgraded insulation
- new gas furnace and/or an Energy Star® replacement fridge
- free personalized energy efficiency advice, tailored to their home