This is another one of those interesting dilemmas:
There are two camps on this:
1) Change the bank accounts for the bills and allow the tenant to pay them from their bank account.
2) The tenant pays the landlord, and then the landlord pays the bills.
The 2nd option I would suggest is better, and this is why:
The main problem is if the tenant is going to stop paying anything at some point, then they will stop paying the rent first.
Do you as the landlord want to continue paying Electricity and Water bills whilst your tenant lives in your property effectively rent free?
Of course not!
However, if the tenant pays the bills directly, and stops paying you rent, then they are still living in your property effectively rent free.
I would suggest the only solution is to cover yourself as a landlord and to make extra stipulations in a rental agreement, under the tenants obligations section.
It needs to be worded such that it is not the obligation of the landlord to pay any service bills arising from the tenants use of the property. It is the obligation of the tenant to ensure that any such bills are paid, by ensuring that any due monies for such bills, including the rent, are paid directly and on time to the landlord, thus making it possible for the landlord to fulfill the obligations of the tenant, with regards to the payment of such bills.
That way if the tenant stops paying the rent, you stop paying the bills and the services will be switched off.
The tenant will then have to pay all arrears and re-connection charges in order to resume these services.
We are trying a summer rental this year, however we had our rental contracts changed in such a fashion, and it was explained to tenant that we would stop paying the bills if they didn't pay the rent.
This message was last edited by TechNoApe on 05/03/2011.