Tenant tips: Activating utilities

One common mistake among new renters, according to MSN Real Estate, is forgetting to ask about or activate utilities.

Before moving in, new tenants need to make sure they check with the landlord to determine which utilities they are responsible for paying and turning on. Some may provide water service but require renters to arrange electricity, the source says.

Beyond necessities such as water and power, the tenant is almost certain to be responsible for phone service, internet connectivity and paying for cable, MSN Real Estate adds. Landlords will generally know who their residents need to contact, however, and can put them in touch with the appropriate service providers.

According to Kiplinger, utility costs vary widely by location. Aside from differences in the prices charged, the heat, cold and humidity of an area is likely to affect how much air conditioning is used and water is drank, for example. Utilities should generally be contacted at least a week in advance to have them activated the day before move in, so that they will be available during the move.