Previous tenant left unpaid gas bill
September 4, 2014 7:13 PM   Subscribe

I moved into my new apartment on Sept 1st. Today, I received a "shut off notice" from the gas company (National Grid in Boston) stating that my unit has an unpaid balance of over $100 as of 8/29, and that the account will be going to collections. This is my first apartment - what should I do, AskMefi? Pay down the balance? Inform my landlord?
posted by mushtale to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
Best answer: Did you call the gas company to have the gas put in your name? If not, you need to do that.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:14 PM on September 4, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know how it works in Boston but in Australia you just tell the power company that whoever used to be there is no longer there, and you're the person there now, and so it should be in your name. Don't you dare pay the previous tenant's bill.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:17 PM on September 4, 2014 [12 favorites]

Best answer: First, I would call National Grid and explain the situation. If the first customer service person isn't helpful, then escalate to the supervisor. You could offer to show them the lease proving that your tenancy started on 9/1. Also, If you haven't put the gas in your name already, you should definitely do that. In fact, you can do that part on their website.

If that doesn't resolve things, I guess your next step would probably be to let your landlord know about it, but I think once you clarify things with National Grid you should be okay.

For whatever it's worth, as someone who has used National Grid in the Boston area, if this is only for cooking gas, that's probably a year's worth of unpaid bills. It's also possible that the previous tenant never even set up an account with National Grid, but that is absolutely not your problem.
posted by litera scripta manet at 7:31 PM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: Under no circumstances do you ever pay anyone else bill.
They have this happen all the time, you call them up, say you are the new tenant, the old tenant (who you don't know) is gone and you need the services turned on and in your name.

Not your job / not your responsibility to give this any thought or worry.

I'm the new guy in the new apartment, I want the gas turned on and here's my info for a new account.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 7:45 PM on September 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It happens ALL the time. They might want to confirm with your landlord, but other than that you have nothing to worry about for utilities in a previous tenants name.

If it's your landlord behind on utilities (I.e. Water) that may be your problem. I can only speak to Chicago on that count.
posted by wotsac at 8:41 PM on September 4, 2014

Best answer: Call National Grid, and as everyone has suggested, tell them you're a new tenant and need a new account. They may run your credit before authorizing your account, FYI. (I know one of the NGs did this -- not sure if it was gas or electric.)

If the first person you speak to isn't helpful, CALL BACK and keep trying until you get someone (either front-line or supervisor) who's willing to help. National Grid is, ah, variable in their competence. I've had very helpful people, and then I've had people who accused me of stealing $500 worth of gas over two weeks. (Needless to say, I was not heating an outdoor pool in January. My meter was defective. It eventually got fixed and the billing sorted, but it took a lot of phone calls to find the right person to solve it.)

If you haven't switched over electric and telecom (cable or whatever), you'll want to do that as well.
posted by pie ninja at 5:45 AM on September 5, 2014

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