Knowledgebase-Temporary Utility Service

Information Product

Title:Temporary Utility Service
Summary:MTAS was whether the town has an obligation to turn on utilities for temporary service:
Original Author:Darden, Ron
Product Create Date:08/17/2011
Last Reviewed on::08/29/2011
Subject:Water--Rates and charges--Tennessee; Water--Finance; Utilities--Termination policies
Original Document: August 17 letter on Temporary Service.pdf

Reference Documents:

Text of Document: August 17, 2011

Mrs. Jenny Hunt, Vice-Mayor
Town of Bell Buckle
8 Railroad Square
Bell Buckle, Tennessee 37020

Re: Temporary Utility Service

Dear Mrs. Hunt

You recently forwarded me the following and asked if the town has an obligation to turn on utilities for temporary service:

In addition, there is a property that has been foreclosed on that had an unpaid water bill.  The Town sent three notices before foreclosure stating that if the bill continued to go unpaid then the tap would be taken.  The Bank called and said that they would come in and pay the bill.  We made a courtesy call to the Bank when several weeks passed to say that we would be taking the tap and if they wanted that tap to remain open then they would need to come in and make the payment within the next two business days.  No payment was made therefore the tap was repossessed.  The Realtor associated with the Bank has asked that the water be turned back on so that they will have a better chance of selling the house.  There has been no offer to pay the outstanding water bill except a verbal offer from the realtor that when the house sells that the seller would pay the water costs.  Can you please advise as to whether the Town has an obligation to turn on utilities for this purpose?

While the town may not have an obligation to turn on utilities for temporary service, it is a good policy that promotes good will, growth and development, and helps improve the appearance and esthetics of the community. I have previously advised the town that the water board cannot legally require a new customer to pay for delinquent water bills of others as a condition for obtaining service. The town may want to consider a policy that allows a temporary service connection for the purpose of maintenance, repair, remodel and cleaning. Several cities have such policies.

Please let me know if I may be of assistance in developing a policy for temporary service.

Respectfully Yours

Ron Darden
Municipal Management Consultant