Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is the City department responsible for water, sewer, and garbage accounts. Since 2011, new tenants cannot open accounts in their own names. The landlord is responsible for the overall account. You may be responsible for paying the cost of the utility charges if the rental agreement states that in the terms and conditions. You should be provided with a copy of the actual bill if the landlord charges you directly. Failure to pay your bill on time can result in a shut-off notice and/or a "14 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate" by your landlord.

  • Tip: Failure to report leaks, running toilets, and other service issues to the landlord promptly can make you responsible for some or all of the cost.
  • Tip: Never flush anything besides toilet paper. A plumbing clog is expensive to repair and your landlord can charge you the entire cost. Don't believe the marketing claims on products for ‘flushable' wipes, etc.
  • Tip: Failure to pay your utility bill on time can result in eviction.
  • Tip: SPU has programs to help with utility discounts or payments.

Seattle City Light

Seattle City Light (SCL) is the City department responsible for electricity accounts. You can open an account in your own name. You are responsible for letting SCL know when you move out. Failure to pay your bill on time can result in a shut-off by SCL and/or a "14 Day Notice to Pay or Vacate" by your landlord.

Third Party Billing Ordinance

The City's Third Party Billing Ordinance protects renters who pay a landlord or a billing company for water, sewer, garbage, or electrical services in residential buildings with 3 or more units. Complaints of violations are made to the Office of the Hearing Examiner.

What should a tenant's utility bill include?

  • The name, business address, and telephone number of the landlord or third party billing agent, whichever one sent the bill to the tenant.
  • The basis for each separate charge, including service charges and late fees, if any, as a line item, and the total amount of the bill.
  • If the units are submetered, the current and previous meter readings, the current read date, and the amount consumed.
  • The due date, the date upon which the bill becomes overdue, the amount of any late charges or penalties that may apply, and the date upon which such late charges or penalties may be imposed.
  • Any past due dollar amounts.
  • The name, mailing address, and telephone number for billing inquiries and disputes, the business hours and days of availability, and the process used to resolve disputes related to bills.

For more information on the Third Party Billing Ordinance read the Seattle Hearing Examiner's Residential Third party Billing Questions and Answers document.