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Bill Responsibility

Who is Responsible for the bill when more than one adult lives at the residence?

Seattle City Light holds the name of the customer on the account, co-applicants identified on the account, and adults in a house (spouse, domestic partner, roommates) who receive electric service responsible for paying the bill.

In the event a person (account holder, co-applicant, spouse, domestic partner, roommate) is residing at a premise receiving electric service from Seattle City Light, that person is presumed to have used the electric service. That person (account holder, co-applicant, spouse, domestic partner, roommate) will be equally responsible for payment of the bills for electric service accumulated during the period of residency.

It shall be the responsibility of the person denying responsibility to prove to the satisfaction of Seattle City Light that he/she was living elsewhere during the billing period(s) in question.

Seattle Municipal Code 21.49.100 d

Why does the Seattle municipal code apply to me if I don't live within the city of Seattle?

Because City Light is a municipal utility the ordinances passed by the Mayor and Seattle City Council govern the policies and practices adopted by the utility, and are specifically applicable to City Light customers within its service territory, which includes areas both inside and outside the city limits.

SMC 21.49.020A
SMC 21.49.130B

When can landlords be held responsible for tenant's bills?

Property owners and tenants are both equally responsible for timely notification to City Light of changes in occupancy and/or property ownership. An owner is responsible for electric service provided to his/her property, and will be billed for charges incurred by tenants if City Light is not notified within ten (10) working days of any change in occupancy or change in the account-holder's name. This means that if you or your tenants do not notify City Light of their move-in/move-out dates within 10 working days you could be held responsible for any outstanding charges - even if the bill is in the name of the tenant.

SMC 21.49.100B,C
SMC 21.49.130B
DPP 500PIII-302, Section 4.5 and Section 4.14
Back of City Light Bill

Would you like to be notified if your tenant's bill becomes delinquent?

When can new owners be held responsible for charges incurred by former owners or former tenants?

When property is bought and sold, escrow companies are required to notify the utilities that service the premises for outstanding charges - unless the buyer and seller waive notification in writing. All charges should be paid at the time of closing so the buyer steps in with a clean slate. However, City Light may recover from the purchaser of any property unpaid utility charges incurred prior to closing by former owners and/or tenants, if City Light did not receive a written request for a final billing from the escrow agent, seller, or purchaser. Purchasers should check with their escrow agent to verify notification.


RCW 60.80.020(1) and 60.80.020(4)(a)
DPP 500PIII-302, Section 4.6

What if a property is purchased through foreclosure or outside of the normal escrow process?

Certain restrictions apply at the time of sale of property. If City Light receives a proper request for a final billing under RCW 60.80.020, it must provide the information within the specified number of days or notify the requesting party that the party provided insufficient information for it to carry out the request. In cases where City Light does not receive a written request for a final billing (such as auction, foreclosure, quit claim, or other process outside of a normal real estate transaction), it may recover from the purchaser unpaid utility charges incurred prior to closing by former owners or tenants.


RCW 60.80.020(4)(a)
DPP 500PIII-302 Section 4.6

What is a shut-off lien?

A statutory utility lien grants City Light the right to cut off service to the property, rather than the right to foreclose on the encumbered property, when charges for services become delinquent. The statute states the lien is limited to four months past due charges. City Light may, however, recover past due amounts beyond four months of delinquency through other means such as, filing suit, obtaining a judgment, executing the judgment, and/or enforcing its adopted policies and procedures.


RCW 35.21.290
RCW 60.80.020(4)(a)
SMC 21.49.130F
DPP 500PIII-302 Sections 4.4, 4.5, and 4.6

What if my service is disconnected?

When service has been disconnected for failure to pay bills when due, City Light is required by Ordinance to collect payment in full or make satisfactory payment arrangements for all charges due before restoring service.

SMC 21.49.130F
DPP500PIII-302 Sections 4.4 and 4.5

What are payment options?

These laws and policies authorize City Light to attempt to collect the full amount owed on delinquent accounts. Again, because City Light is a municipal or public utility, the Washington State Constitution, at Article VIII, Section 7, prohibits City Light from waiving charges for electricity that has been delivered to your property, which would be considered a gift of public funds. The following payment options are available:

100% payment of your past due balance Or
A minimum of 50% of your past due balance Plus
    Payment arrangements (if eligible)
    Energy Assistance Pledges (if eligible)
By Cash, Money Order, Cashiers Check Or Credit/Debit Card

DPP 500PIII-302 Section 4.4

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Seattle City Light -- 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, Seattle, WA 98104-5031 -- 206.684.3000
Mailing address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 3200, P.O. Box 34023 Seattle, WA 98124-4023