Tenant vs Landlord vs Electric Company etc

This is a discussion on Tenant vs Landlord vs Electric Company etc within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; I live in Ohio. And among other issues that I need addressed by a lawyer, our power keeps shutting off ...

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Old Aug 29th, 2008, 08:26 PM   #1

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Default Tenant vs Landlord vs Electric Company etc

I live in Ohio. And among other issues that I need addressed by a lawyer, our power keeps shutting off everyday a little after 4 and sometimes later. Consequently, our electric bill has skyrocketed to over 400 dollars in the past 3 months. To which I've had to get help to pay for through PIPP/HEAP. When I contacted our elec. company, they said that there may be a shared meter situation and it was obvious that something wasn't right, even with everything that we run in the house, including a 110kw window A.C. The company said to contact my Landlord and when I did, he said that it was impossible. I've called him MULTIPLE times on this issue, as I have the Electric Company. Both refuse to do anything about it.

Over the past week and a half we've been monitoring the two other apartments attatched to our own -- monitoring as in, seeing who comes home when the power shuts off. Turns out, everytime our neighboor who lives behind us comes home, shortly thereafter, our power goes off. Without fail, everyday. And at random on the weekends.

Now that we've confirmed that a neighboor is pulling our electric, our Landlord still denies up and down that it's impossible for him to be pulling from us. And for further information to anyone reading this, where we live was originally 1 house converted into 3 apartments.

Since he's refusing to do anything about it, am I able to get compensation for what we've paid toward our electric? What kind of action can I take legally if i've taken every step to getting it fixed (i.e., sending written notices and multiple conversations over the phone AND in person.)

This might be a little too much information to try and get all at once, but another issue is this: I read the tenant's rights section. And it stated that the Landlord cannot shut off or be the cause of the shut off of a utility.
Our landlord has had our water shut off TWICE because of a late payment.
On these occasions, one was on CHRISTMAS EVE that our water was shut off. Furthermore, on another occasion we were struggling financially, I contacted the water company for a possible extension. The person I spoke to there told me that it's not their decision, it's the Landlords. Upon calling the Landlord, he, in so many words, said that he would not allow us to extend our bill, and that we needed to pay it in full otherwise he would have it shut off.
As a result, we had to knock on a church's door to get the help. Which was humiliating on top of the embarrassment of struggling in the first place.
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Old Aug 30th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #2

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Default Re: Tenant vs Landlord vs Electric Company etc

Is it only YOUR power that is shutting off, or everyone's? Most people get home about that time (all the kids from school, many employers let out at 3 or 4, etc.) The influx of customers wanting more power at that time may be draining the electric reserves, especially on hot days. Thousands of kids come home, turn on their A/C, power up their computers, video games and TVs, microwave a snack, etc. The power demand typically goes up about this time each day. Brown outs or black outs are common about this time. Is only your unit affected? Check other units to see if their power is out too. Your increased bill may be the result of the price per KWH being increased by the pwer company (since oil has risen, so has electric and gas prices.) Check the bill to see if you are using more KWH than this time last year. If not, the high bill is only because the price of the electric is about 30% higher this year than last.

If only your unit if affected, a couple of suggestions: wait until the neighbor is home. Turn off all appliances in the unit, including anything that plugs in and silently draws power (such as a cell charger, the microwave, or any appliance that comes on with the touch of a button). Those things all draw power without your knowledge EVEN WHEN NOT TURNED ON or when nothing is plugged into them. UNPLUG EVERYTHING, turn off the A/C, unplug the fridge for a couple minutes.

Then look at your meter. It should no longer be moving at all. If it is, someone else is drawing power from your unit. If it isn't, no one is connected to your meter and you simply have some power drain in your unit. Unplug all unnecessary items.

If the meter still runs after you have unplugged everything, shut off your breakers one by one. See which one stops the meter from moving and mark that switch. Turn on only that switch (with all others off) and see what that breaker operates. If nothing in your unit, leave that breaker off completely. If it operates some things, then both you and the neighbor have a shared circuit on that breaker. This will give you the evidence needed to prove that someone else is drawing your power and you may have just cause to be compensated for that extra cost. You can then force the LL to correct the situation.

As for the water bill, it appears that it is your responsibility to pay this bill. No one is required to extend you extra credit or allow you to run up a higher debt once it is past due. The LL did not violate the law since he did not turn off your utilities. You didn't pay the bill on time and that is why they were shut off by the utility company. I'm sorry, but you need to budget better to pay this bill and you would not have to seek charity to help you.
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