Perkasie Electric is a municipal owned and maintained electric company. This offers the electric company specific benefits when it comes to rental properties.
State legislation known as the Municipal Claims and Liens Act allows municipal utilities to hold property owners responsible for tenant debt. This could include action against the landlord for the amount due for service provided at the owner’s property which could be in the form of a municipal claim lien.
Perkasie Borough takes every avenue open to them to collect from the tenant, however there are times when payment is requested from the landlord.
Procedures taken to help protect Perkasie Borough and the property owners include:
The Borough requires a security deposit of $300 for properties with electric heat and $200 for properties with any other form of heat for any new account opened. The Borough currently requires a security deposit for all rental accounts. For accounts that have been open since before this policy went into effect, a security deposit may be required at a later time if the customer’s payment history reflects a drastic negative change in the customer’s payment habits. This is usually associated with electric disconnect for non-payment.
AMENDED SECURITY DEPOSIT POLICY: At the public meeting on September 15, 2014, the Perkasie Borough Council revised and clarified the existing policy regarding security deposits associated with electrical service for renters. The policy change was reviewed and recommended by the Council’s Public Utility Committee prior to approval at the Borough Council meeting.
Under the new policy, which was effective immediately security deposits will be required from renters at the time they apply to open an electric service account.
Disconnection of electric service occurs when an account becomes 40 to 45 days past due. Notice is given prior to shut-off to allow the customer a chance to pay the delinquent account and avoid shut off.
This procedure is only used from March 31 though December 1 for residential properties. Electric disconnects during the winter months may cause freezing water pipes and other complications associated with the cold weather, so shut off is not used as a means for collection of past due residential accounts other than the time frame stated above.
Collection of Delinquencies for Rental Property Electric Accounts
If an account holder fails to pay delinquent charges for electric service, he or she will be able to establish a new account in Perkasie Borough only if payment of the delinquent amount is made within 15 days of opening the new account. If an account holding renter relocates to another residence in Perkasie without paying the final bill on the previous account, that final bill is paid from the security deposit or it is mailed to the new account address. If it is not paid, it is charged to the new account.
In the case of renters who: (1) vacate the rental property with a delinquent amount owing; (2) do not have an adequate security deposit to cover the owed amount; and (3) do not establish another account in Perkasie Borough; the Borough will attempt to collect the delinquent amount in one or more ways. These include continued in-house collection efforts, and filing of civil action against the account holder in District Court.
If all efforts to collect the debt from the account-holding renter are unsuccessful, the Borough will seek payment of the debt by the property owner. All municipal charges including utility charges, must be paid at or before settlement if the property is being sold. Therefore, if necessary, the Borough may also file a lien against the property that must be satisfied when the property is sold.
Perkasie Borough does not wish to contribute to the problem some landlords have experienced on being forced to pay delinquent electric charges accumulated by their tenants. On the other hand, you can understand the Boroughs reluctance to disconnect service to residential properties, especially those that are electrically heated, during the coldest months of the year.
In order to minimize the risk that you as a landlord would become responsible for your tenants unpaid electric utility charges, it is recommended that you take such measures as properly screening tenants, including credit references, and retaining adequate security deposits. Some landlords choose to have the electric utility accounts for rental properties in their name in order to insure regular payment by tenants. Landlords also are entitled to information on account balances for rental property they own. This information is available by written request.
As an added service to landlords, Perkasie Borough will mail duplicates of all monthly bills and any disconnect notices directly to the landlord of a rental customer for a first year charge of $15.00 per account. The annual renewal charge is $5.00 per account. To arrange for this service, call the Perkasie Borough Electric Department.
Information about tenant accounts may also be obtained from time to time if requested in writing to Perkasie Borough Electric, PO Box 96, Perkasie, Pa. 18944-0096.
Any questions or comments can be made by phone, mail or e-mail.