Landlord rented me a house as residential, but commercial zoned

6 Replies

I am a tenant in florida. I rented a house under a residential lease about a month ago, When I got my first electric bill I was charged for a commercial electric deposit of $460 and not my usual residential deposit being transferred over, even though my family went through the whole residential lease process and not once was ever informed of any commercial leasing or zoning aspects. We just rented it as a residential house. Im still not sure how this house is zoned. Should I go to the electric company and see if they just wrongfully are charging me this or is the landlord illegally renting me a commercial zoned house as residential, and who is responsible for paying the commercial zoning electric deposit even though we were always under the impression this was a residential lease? Thanks for any advice

If it's a commercial property and subject to commercial rates, that should have been disclosed. Contact the Landlord and ask him (kindly) to handle it. This may be an honest mistake on his part. 

If the landlord refuses to do anything, contact the City and the utility provider and explain the situation to see if they can help. If nobody can do anything, I think you have grounds to break the lease without penalty.

Hey I really appreciate the response Mr. G. Yes I agree this is something they needed to disclose, As an extra $400+ charge on my bill really stands out especially since my total electric bill this month was only $150. Upon further research I found out that this house used to be a counseling office about 10 years ago and was bought by the current landlord about two years ago along with the house nextdoor. Not sure if they have ever rented out to anybody else in this same circumstance. Quick question, Is this something the utility company can possibly mix up, or is the zoning pretty much set in stone and not something they can be flexible with like mixed use and they just think the same business is starting up again? You mention contacting the city and I was wondering which dept specifically I can get ahold of since this house is located about 50 yards behind the city courthouse. Also what is the landlord's responsibilty in this, do they have to rezone since we filled out a residential lease, can I stay while they figure this out (or refuse) basically what are my rights here?  Thanks again for helping me in this unfortunate quandary.

Sounds like this used to be residential and was rezoned commercial at some point. It doesn’t mean the landlord is doing something illegal, it likely has “nonconfirming” prior use permitted, ie grandfathered in.

The landlord probably should help you with extra deposit, if it’s a big deal to you, but probably has no legal responsibility to do so.

Him having to refine it back is a silly thought.

You should pay the fee the utility requests and then work out the problem. You do not want to get cut off or incur any penalties while you are working thinks through. 

As suggested you will likely have grounds to break the lease and hopefully your landlord will be agreeable. He would then need to try and get the property rezoned to correct the problem. If you decided to stay and he could get it rezoned you may then be eligible for a refund on a portion of your deposit from the utility.

Agree with @Nathan G. Find out if it’s zoned commercial or mixed use. The city can easily tell you this if not online as a public record. If commercial and electrical service is operating under that precept then talk to the landlord about normalizing utility costs to residential rates.

It would be a material breach of the lease by the landlord to not disclose this by a reasonable person standard so you should have plenty of leverage

Is the electricity actually going to be at a higher or lower KWH rate than a residential account would be? I had a commercial account on an aircraft hangar and it was structured a bit differently but I don't think it cost more (maybe less) than a residential account would have been.

Also, I think the utility company has it completely in their power to make this a residential or commercial account so you can probably just sort it out with them. ie, call customer service and say, "hey, my new account is showing as commercial but it's not, who do I need to speak to to get it corrected?"

Before you do that however, you may want to make sure it will be beneficial to you.