New to the Area

If you previously had utility service in Seattle and know the account number, it will be easiest for you to log in to your account to establish new service with your previous account number.

If you have never had utility service with the City of Seattle, it may be easiest for you to use our online application to open an account. Our online application allows you to verify your identity by answering a few questions based on consumer data. This verification is not a request for credit and will not impact your credit score in any way. It simply allows us to confirm your identity.

Sometimes, the online system cannot verify your identity. If online verification fails, we won't be able to open a new account for you by phone, either. You need to come to one of our walk-in locations across Seattle to show approved, government-issued photo identification to open your account. These safeguards are put in place to reduce the risk of identity theft and comply with the Federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

 

Multi-Family Property Owners and Tenants

Owners and tenants may establish electric accounts (Seattle City Light) in their names. If tenants cannot provide photo identification, a notarized application (pdf) or landlord affidavit is acceptable. Only owners, not tenants, may establish residential water, sewer, or garbage, recycling, and compost accounts with Seattle Public Utilities (SPU). If owners cannot provide photo identification, a notarized ID verification (pdf) is acceptable. Tenants with these services in their name prior to 2012 may continue to hold these accounts until closing is requested.

Who pays the utility bill? Anyone may pay any Seattle Public Utilities bill, regardless the name appearing on the account. Payments are accepted from the owner, property management company, tenant, or another third party.

Landlord Responsibilities

  • Inform SPU of any account information and maintenance changes including phone numbers, mailing address, and garbage, recycling, and compost service levels.
  • Ensure accounts are financially current through prompt payments by themself or by a payment agreement with tenants.
  • Work with SPU to resolve leak or other service issues.

Tenant Responsibilities

  • Coordinate as needed with landlord for timely payment of water/sewer/garbage bills.
  • Inform the landlord or property management company of any leaks, running toilets, or other service issues if they occur.

SPU Responsibilities

  • Maintain and read water meter for timely and accurate billing.
  • Provide water, sewer, garbage, recycling, and compost service as indicated by account service levels.
  • Respond to landlord requests for account information, problem solving, and other services in a timely manner.

Can water, sewer, garbage, recycling, and compost accounts be put in a tenant's name?

Per Seattle Municipal Code SMC 21.04.260, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) does not create water, sewer or solid waste accounts in tenant names. Additionally, per SMC 21.04.250, the property owner is always ultimately responsible for the water, sewer, and solid waste debt incurred by a renter.

I own a residential rental property, and I am concerned about tenant delinquency. What are my options?

Both property owners and tenants can sign up for online accounts and view or pay bills electronically.

  • The owner and tenant can have separate online user accounts
  • When the tenant moves out, the tenant or the owner can request that the tenant's online access to the property's account be deactivated
  • Neither party will be able to access or view the other's stored payment information.

Property owners may also request duplicate paper billing. The original bills and notices are sent to the owner and duplicate copies are mailed to the service address.

How can tenants establish credit using utility accounts?

Tenants can establish credit through many bills that are in their name, such as cell phone, cable, internet, gas, and electric accounts. Tenants are still able to put their Seattle City Light bill in their name, so they can still establish credit through a utility account.

Can the tenant receive a copy of the bills and notices?

Yes. The property owner whose name is on the bill should contact customer service at (206) 684-3000 to have a copy of the bill sent to their tenant. The original bill will continue to be mailed to the property owner at their mailing address, and a clearly marked duplicate copy will be sent to the service address.

Do tenants use excess water and resources if they don't receive a bill?

There is no hard evidence to suggest that tenants waste water if they don't pay the water bill. For water-saving tips, rebates, and advice on finding and fixing leaks, visit the Saving Water Partnership website or call (206) 684-SAVE (7283).

How can a property owner manage their property's utility bills?

Landlords have several ways they can manage their property utility bills. They can adjust rents, deposits, or fees as well as provide bill copies to their tenants. SPU has no interest, influence, or authority over what landlords determine to be their best method.

What about tenants who are eligible to receive discounted utilities through the City's Utility Discount Program?

If a tenant is eligible to participate in the Utility Discount Program and has a City Light account in their name (proving they are the tenant), service credits will be applied to their Seattle City Light account.

How can I determine the amount of a typical bill in case I want to raise my rent to cover the utility costs?

Billed charges can vary depending on number of people in the household, water use habits, and solid waste service levels. Landlords can look at previous bill statements to obtain a history to determine an average monthly amount. For additional billing information, landlords may visit rate information or use the landlord billing calculator.

How can an owner pro-rate a bill for tenants leaving or new tenants moving in?

Landlords can prorate by taking an average bill amount, dividing by the days of service to determine the average daily charge, then multiply by the number of days for which the tenant is responsible.