Winamac Officials Discuss Issue with Unpaid Utility Bills at Rented Property

Winamac officials plan to develop an ordinance that will address an ongoing issue with unpaid utility bills at rented properties.

During Monday’s Town Council meeting, Clerk-Treasurer Melanie Berger explained that, typically, the unpaid bills would just be sent to the former tenants’ new residence. However, she said they don’t always leave a forwarding address.

She said while there is a state statute that requires landlords to provide payment for their tenants’ unpaid wastewater bills, there is nothing that requires them to cover the water or electric bills. She presented the council with an idea that other municipalities have implemented to deal with this kind of problem.

Berger told members, “More and more cities and towns are making the landlords keep the properties in their name, making them also responsible for the utility bills.”

Town Council President Tom Murray noted that he thinks it’s a good idea and the rest of the members agreed. Town Attorney Justin Schramm was tasked with drawing up an ordinance that will be up for consideration at the council’s next meeting on Monday, November 12th.