Renter dispute regarding utilities

6 Replies

Hey everyone,

In addition to owning property I also happen to be a renter.  I have a question from a renters perspective.

I have rented a house in Colorado for a little over 4 years.  A couple hundred feet away sits a large warehouse (Roughly 100'L x 40'W x 30'H).  I was told when I moved in that I do not have access to it because the owner uses it for storage.  I have always had very high electricity bills (Avg to twice my neighbors).  I weatherproofed the house as best I could and set the thermostat for 62 in the winter.  

Recently the owner began renting the warehouse to a commercial carpet company and my electricity rose even more.  I called the electric company and they came out and told me my meter is tied to the warehouse.  I called property management and they offered a recourse of getting 2 meters.  Although I understand this is a good way of fixing the future problem, I feel cheated and wonder if I have a recourse for my exorbitant expenses over the last 4 years?

I don't know if this makes a difference, but the ownership of the property changed hands about 1.5 years ago.

Additionally my lease states "The tenant is responsible for all utilities in their name".

Uh, yeah, I'd be asking for a little more than just splitting it up and having the correct bill going forward.  No doubt in my mind that the owner was well aware they didn't have to pay for electricity for their warehouse.  I would request a credit or actual payment for the electric bills you've been paying for someone else for the last four years.  The change in ownership is going to make it more difficult.  But I'd still insist that something be done.

@Christopher Price I am quite certain that a trip to small claims court would come out in your favor. To speed along the process you might open your electric panel when you see a light on in the warehouse and start tripping breakers until you see the lights go off. It's unlikely that the panel will have circuits that serve both your house and the warehouse. If the panel has the breakers labeled, you might be able to turn it off and curb the power consumption right away. I would sit down and figure out a dollar amount that you want as well. Remember anything under $7,500 is small claims which doesn't require a lawyer to file so you would have a cheaper route. 

Against prior owner,, I'd guess you have no recourse, against current owner,, I'd say you want at least 50% of the bill refunded to you for past service costs.. and until they get it separated to 2 meters going forward you will not pay for electric service,  you'll deduct it from your rent,, give him copy of the bill so he knows what the cost was. In fact I'd go as far to back adjust your rent for the past 1 1/2 years,, by giving him a copy of the bills, divide cost,, and deduct the split difference.. from your rent. 

@Bill S. That is BRILLIANT strong arm maneuver to get the owner to fix the problem!!  I'm sure the owner will move quickly to remedy the problem when he is getting hounded by the carpet company that has no power in their building.

@Christopher Price without seeing how the panel is wired, I think it is a little more involved than just installing an additional meter.  They may have to bring a new line in from the street, but at the very least will need to install a separate panel and move the wiring over.  Could be a couple thousand.

An alternative may be to try and get some money back and then have the owner pay for all the electricity going forward.  This would save them the cost and hassle of having to separate the power and you could turn your heat up without having to pay for it.  I guess it really depends on the owner...

Hey everyone.  Thanks for all the input and help!  There are a lot of good ideas.  I'm thinking the small claims court may be the way to go.  Ill update on this when it is all said and done.

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