illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

This is a discussion on illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; Unfortunately we moved in and signed a lease before realizing a few major issues... the landlord had illegally split half ...

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Old Jun 26th, 2011, 06:29 PM   #1
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Unhappy illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

Unfortunately we moved in and signed a lease before realizing a few major issues... the landlord had illegally split half our basement into an "apartment" which they rent out as "all utilities included". the downside of that for us is that both families run off of our electric meter. after raising enough of a stink about it the landlord finally agreed to pay $73 a month toward our electric bill (which in the hottest part of summer and coldest part of winter runs around $400 but the landlord claims that the electric company is the one that estimated that the other family who conveniently pays the landlord for utilities, uses $73 a month) but refuses to back pay ANYTHING for the 7 moths before we noticed it. to make that matter MORE strange, there are two other houses on our street that they own that are in the same situation and somehow the electric company "estimated" the same $73 for both those families as well. It seems odd that they woulds estimate they use that much less electricity than us considering they have all the same appliances as us. they have a little less square footage but that would really only make a difference on heating and cooling and we pay that whole bill as well anyway. additionally, both parts of the house run off OUR central heat and air and both hot water heaters run on our side as well so even if they were split into two meters we would be footing the entire heating, cooling,and hot water bill. at the beginning of last summer the central heat and air quit and rather than fix or replace the unit the landlord simply bought each family one small window unit for cooling needs. we live in a large two story brick home and it doesnt take a rocket scientist to figure out that is not nearly enough to cool that much space and those two units have to run full force 24/7 to even keep it tolerable in the house (and even then only the front part of the house where the unit sits) and obviously running those window units for primary cooling on such a large space makes our energy bill even worse. to make matters worse, our breaker box is in the other apartment so anytime a breaker trips we dont have access to it unless the other people are home and feel like answering the door and resetting the breaker for us. its my understanding that is against fire code. also i was told that in order to legally split a house that certain things had to be done structurally such as fireproof boarding surrounding the new kitchen (which is directly under our bedroom) and that has not been done so if a fire broke out we could burn up in our bed before we were even aware of a fire. also, the wall that is in the basement that sections off our side leaves no escape route out of the basement. no windows or doors of any kind are on our side of the basement so in the case of fire or other emergency if we were in the basement we would be trapped. the wall is makeshift so if i had to i could possibly break it down to escape but id hate to rely on that if it came to possibly being burned alive. another thing is that a couple months ago the lower level flooded when we got a lot of rain and it created a lot of mold. the landlord knows that i have lung damage from chemical exposure in the military and cant tolerate that sort of irritant, yet almost two months later the only cleanup that has been done is that the carpet has been pulled up but it is still moldy and trashed down there. at one point the mold finally got me to the point where i went into respiratory depression and I almost died before the ambulance could get here. i had to be put on a ventilator and spent 4 days in the hospital. unfortunately for us we do not have nearly enough money ahead to try to get out and find a new place. we do not know if we have a legal case but even if we do we cant take legal action while living here or they will just make it that much more miserable on us until we can afford to leave (or they may just try to kick us out). also there is the fact that without even having the money to move out we certainly cant afford to retain an attorney. we are just stuck in a bad situation and any help or advice would be much appreciated. One last note, the city and county code enforcement people will never return any of our messages. we were told by past tenants that this is because these landlords own 26 properties here and have paid to keep their indiscretions quiet, so we dont even have those people to turn to for help and the electric company cant/wont do anything either. thank you. Chris
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Old Jun 26th, 2011, 11:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

I wish to inform you that laws of your state and area will govern your rights. In this regard you can generally claim the amount of utility bill which you have to pay for others. In this regard you can give a demand notice in which you may demand from your landlord the benefits which he has taken in the form of supplying of utility to new tenants. You can inform your landlord that under the agreement of lease you cannot be held liable for other units utility bill. If your landlord refuses then you can file a suit for recovery of the amount due. You can self represent yourself in litigation or may contact legal aid in this regard. You can also file a complaint with HUD.

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Old Jun 27th, 2011, 04:20 PM   #3
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

while i appreciate your reply, it only addressed a very tiny portion of the many problems i outlined. additionally, i have no way to determine what they owe me for electric because with the neighbor draining off of my meter i have no way of knowing who is using what amount.... also, i do not live in a HUD house i pay my own bills.


also, i live in festus, MO which is in jefferson county if that helps clarify anything.
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Old Nov 1st, 2011, 12:33 AM   #4
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

i am trying to refresh this post because i never got any real answers... again, any help would be MUCH appreciated!!!
Chris & Sara
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Old Nov 1st, 2011, 01:38 PM   #5
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

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i am trying to refresh this post because i never got any real answers... again, any help would be MUCH appreciated!!!
Chris & Sara
Please re-structure your post so that some white space is utilized, proper capitalization and punctuation is utilized, and leave out irrelevant, rambling details while sticking to pertinent details.

That should help in garnering responses. Right now your post is a jumble of head splitting, rambling words that nobody wants to muddle through.
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Old Nov 1st, 2011, 03:27 PM   #6
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

Sounds like you may have to consult an attorney.

Yeah, no one wants to pay for an attorney, but everyone wants an internet forum to give legal answers.

That just isn't happening, so maybe you can hire an attorney for half an hour just for a consultation.

Just some food for thought...your post was really difficult to read because of a lack of paragraphs.

Best of luck to you.
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Old Nov 1st, 2011, 07:25 PM   #7
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Default Re: illegal residence split/paying neighbors electric bill

First, you can contact the utility company in your own right, give them the address, and you can get the billing history for the last couple of years. Most utility companies keep their records at least that long. Then you can see what the meter readings and billing totals were for the basement unit before you moved in.

Since there are two families in that basement, it is not unreasonable to halve the utility bills.

Write the county instead of telephoning. Yes, you may invite a code inspection, The way the units are divided up is probably illegal. The downstairs units must be separately metered IF the landlord can make the units legal. The mold problem is potentially as serious health problem, which you know. Take photos as well which you can use for court and restitution for your bills and any damages to your property.

You paint a picture of a landlord who is tight with the town of Festus. Where is your county seat? Is there a small claims court in the county? OUTSIDE of Festus, MO? For that is what you will probably have to do, file your claim there.

Prepare yourself to move, and find whatever help is available. You can contact charitable organizations for some will pay rental and utility deposits if one does not have the finances. Contact social services for your county as well for they should have a list of organizations that will help one out in a pinch, even if the State itself cannot. For code and health considerations as well as financial (paying another person's utility bills) you know you need to move -- not just remain and continue being a victim of this scummy landlord.
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Old Nov 3rd, 2011, 11:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Please re-structure your post so that some white space is utilized, proper capitalization and punctuation is utilized, and leave out irrelevant, rambling details while sticking to pertinent details.

That should help in garnering responses. Right now your post is a jumble of head splitting, rambling words that nobody wants to muddle through.
every single thing in my post is relevant. im sorry you think that there is too much relevant stuff for one post...
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