How Philadelphia Rental Owners Can Avoid Liens on their Properties when Residents Don’t Pay their Gas Bills
The Pennsylvania Responsible Utility Consumer Protection Act (Act 201) of 2004 ensures PGW’s (Philadelphia Gas Work’s) right to place liens on an owner’s property if residents become delinquent in their gas bill payments. The purpose of the act was to assure PGW payment for their gas services. But PGW has agreed to refrain from placing liens on properties if the owner/landlord agrees to participate in a program designed to help PGW collect what it is due, and gain access to the property when needed.
Throughout 2005 the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia and others negotiated with PGW to develop PGW’s Landlord Cooperation Program (LCP). PGW agreed to refrain from placing liens on properties if the owners enroll in and cooperate with the Program. The Program contains specific owner registration and monitoring requirements.
They must provide specific information about one of their rental licenses issued by Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections (L & I), and create a username and password.
Reliable contact information is also required.
PGW has obtained L & I rental license records and once an owner is identified by a single license number, a complete list of licensed properties for that particular owner will be generated from L & I records. All properties owned by that owner will then be covered under the LCP once they are registered.
Once registered, owners can visit the LCP website to monitor their properties and update information. PGW promises to develop a reliable procedure to inform landlords of a resident’s delinquent status.
Under the Program, PGW will first try to gain access to the property in the event of a delinquent account. They will also email the landlord when the property has been shut off. If they cannot gain access, they will email the landlord to arrange access.
If the tenant customer requests the shut off, PGW will email the landlord about the requested date and time of the shutoff.
The process for meter maintenance works in the same way. PGW will contact the landlord when they need access to inspect the meter.
PGW will swiftly and relentlessly pursue liens on properties where residents are delinquent and owners are not LCP participants. Owners should seriously consider enrolling and complying with all provisions.