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Types of Utilities

Types of Utilities in Apartments for Rent in Houston, Texas
A rental property owner or apartment manager may shut off any utility (electricity, water, wastewater and gas) in order to carry out repairs in your Houston apartment or construction, or in an emergency. But, there are only limited times when a rental property owner or apartment manager can shut off the electric service because of money the apartment resident owes the rental property owner or apartment manager. A rental property owner or apartment manager may never shut off water, wastewater or gas because the apartment resident is delinquent with a rent or utility payment. Any provision of an apartment lease agreement that purports to waive any of the apartment resident's rights, liabilities or duties under the utility shutoff law is void.

NOTE: The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) believes that the Texas rental property code does not prohibit a rental property owner or apartment manager from shutting off water utilities to apartments for rent in Houston, Texas, if the rental property owner or apartment manager follows TCEQ rules. The Austin Apartment residents' council disagrees.

Section 92.008 of the Texas Rental property Code regulates when and how a rental property owner or apartment manager may turn off the electric service of an apartment resident who is delinquent on rent or a utility bill. In order to understand whether a rental property owner or apartment manager has the right to shut off the electricity, the type of utility service must be determined first. There are four types of utility services that apartment residents encounter in rental units.

The first is Submetered Utilities. The rental property owner or apartment manager receives one bill for all of the apartments, and this bill is split among the apartment residents based on the apartment residents' actual usage according to the sub meter.

The second type is Non-Submetered, Master-Metered Utilities. The rental property owner or apartment manager receives one bill for all of the rental units, but because there are not individual sub meters, the rental property owner or apartment manager uses an approved method to divide the utility bill among the apartment residents. You will find a more detailed description about these methods later in the brochure.

The third type is All Bills Paid. The rental property owner or apartment manager receives and pays for all utility bills, so the utilities are included as part of the rent.

The fourth type of service is when the utilities are paid directly by the apartment resident to a utility company, such as Reliant Energy.

Electric utilities may be shut off for non-payment of rent in All Bills Paid rental units. Electric utilities may also be shut off for non-payment of Submetered and master-mastered utility bills, but only when the rental property owner or apartment manager follows the specific procedures described next.

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