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I just bought a house. My girlfriend is going to be living with me, but the house is in only my name. To split the expenses, we are planning on her paying all of the utilities.

Is there any problem with the home being in my name, but the gas, electricity, etc. being in hers?

Update: We are in a serious, long-term relationship and will probably be married in the next couple years.

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The best reason I've heard for doing this is that many banks and so on want to see a utility bill in your name, at your address, as proof of identity when setting up an account. Having one of the utilities assigned to her, temporarily or permanently, is in fact a classic way of achieving that. –  keshlam Jul 1 at 23:23
    
@keshlam Indeed - that's what I talked about in my answer - don't forget to scroll down! –  AndrewC Jul 1 at 23:25

6 Answers 6

Assuming United States

As far as "Will they will allow you to do that?" Of course! (How do you think renters get utilities?)

As far as the responsibility to pay, that's up to you. If you are setting things up like that to prevent being swamped with bills which your girlfriend has no legal obligation to pay, that would work. However, if something were to happen between you, and she were to move out, then she'd probably cancel all of the utilities, and you'd have to re-acquire the service in your name, which may lead to service interruptions or early-termination fees on your girlfriend's side (I'm thinking about getting a multi-year contract on something like Internet/TV).

In my case, my wife's name is on our electric bill, our cable/internet bill, but I'm on the water/sewage and trash. It just happened like that because of who had free time at the moment to sign up for service. It's slightly annoying, because any time I call our providers, they won't allow me to make changes to the account without my wife present.

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With regards to setting accessing the account, most utilities companies will allow the primary holder to add second person to the account with a full range of privileges. –  KyleMit Jul 1 at 12:29
    
Most utilities allow you to add "authorized" people for an account that aren't the main account holder but can make decisions. –  Smeegs Jul 1 at 13:06
    
IF the breakup were to occur on reasonable terms it may be possible to transfer the utilities accounts from her name to yours directly instead of both of you paying disconnect/reconnect fees. –  Dan Neely Jul 1 at 13:30
    
@Smeegs many of them have this feature, but also require the "authorized" party to provide personal information about the main account holder. I gave my roommate full account privileges on my cable/internet account, and they still wouldn't let him file a service request without the last 4 digits of my SSN. –  smcg Jul 2 at 13:29
    
@smcg In my case, I have my wife's full social memorized, her mother's maiden name, and the entirety of her debt history, and they still won't let me make changes. The most extreme case was an auto loan where I was the primary applicant. The online account was in my wife's name, so they wouldn't let me cancel pending payments over the phone. –  Noah Jul 2 at 13:57

I am assuming credit scores and such are not an issue.

If you are a serious couple; probably not. For example, my wife's name is on many of our bills but it has ended up that I pay everything. We don't share a last name or bank accounts, so the utilities around me certainly don't care. (I am in the United States.)

If you aren't a very serious couple, you might consider how bad it would be to have the power or gas go off after a break up.

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+1 for a shorter version of my answer a few seconds before my answer =D –  Noah Jun 30 at 20:17
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@Noah YEEEEHAAWWW SLOWPOKE!!! X) –  MrChrister Jun 30 at 20:18
    
Not sure why you brought up credit scores unless it is in terms if it goes into collections. –  staticx Jul 1 at 10:54
    
@staticx Some companies run a credit check before agreeing to provide service. –  Noah Jul 1 at 13:04
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Some utilities require a deposit if the customer has a thin credit file. –  mhoran_psprep Jul 1 at 13:15

"Is there any problem...?"
There is no problem in putting her name on all bills - most companies are happy to take anyone's money, however...

  • Sometimes you need multiple proofs of address and "a recent utility bill" is one that comes up quite a bit in lists of acceptable proof - so you might want one in your name.
  • Having a mismatch between the name of the utility bill and the credit card/bank account you use to pay it isn't normally a problem - it's OK to have one in your name.

Since we bought our new house, my wife is pleased that one of the bills is in her name now for this reason.

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+1 These are the kind of issues I was wondering about, not so much the fact that I will be without power if she so decided. –  user17778 Jul 1 at 13:46

As others have said, there is no problem with doing this but if the girlfriend happens to be a non-US citizen, who might be applying for citizenship or a green card in the future, having the additional trail of paperwork is in your best interest. Things like joint utilities weigh heavily as evidence of your relationship.

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Alternatively, your girlfriend can now claim she has been supporting you through bill payments and make a claim for a share of the communal home, even if it is in your name - and you pay the mortgage.

Give her a rent book - make sure she has her own room, and keep the bills in your name.

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I did this exact thing for about two years - there were no problems. In fact, there were some advantages to this approach.

For example, when my ex left I was able to get "new customer" discounts on cable internet because I had no accounts in my name previously.

Anyone who is asking for a "recent utility bill" should accept a mortgage or property tax bill in your name as well.

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