City owned utility companies have long considered their delinquencies as municipal liens having priority as of the date the service was provided. On the title insurance side we have seen this bring multi-family settlement to a screeching halt when a landlord finds out there are gas liens close to ten-thousand dollars attached to their property. When it comes to these “municipal liens” and Philadelphia Gas Works, otherwise known as “PGW” in recent months it has been highly publicized that the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania found PGW’s methods to be unconstitutional when it comes to commercially owned properties due to a lack of due process. Landlords would not find out that the PGW balance was delinquent until it was too late.
“Landlords are often unable to take any action to prevent large liens from being assessed against their properties and are unable to recoup those funds from tenants who have long since vacated their properties…” The Court Noted.
Well believe it or not PGW is now providing certifications of amounts for service provided to tenant occupied properties without distinction between accounts in tenant name or in owner name after the ruling by the Federal Court. As with other municipal certifications, the amount certified by PGW as being due is to be paid, unless the owner induces PGW to provide a revised certification. Revised certification or not, it is always our best advice for landlords to take part in the Landlord Cooperation Program that the city runs to enable landlords to stay free and clear from their tenants utility debts.
The Philadelphia Water Revenue Department has long sent notices of tenant delinquencies to their corresponding landlords. It appears PGW will have to start doing the same. And from a PA title insurance stand point this will make things a lot easier for landlords that had no idea that a tremendous delinquency was racking up in their names.