Landlord ? for CA Rental with util included

4 Replies

I have a SFR with 2 units. There is only 1 meter for utilities at this property so utilities are included in the monthly rent. I have verbiage in the signed lease as follows:

Utilities – Reasonable utilities are included in the monthly rental fee assessed per occupancy. If it is determined

excessive utilities are being consumed by an individual or unit, management reserves the right to amend this and

hold tenant responsible for additional portion of utilities.

i. Be responsible with usage:

1. Do not leave air conditioning or heat on when no one is home.

2. Do not leave electronics/lights on when not needed.

ii. Crypto-mining is prohibited due to excessive use of electricity.

iii. Electric vehicle charging is prohibited.

I have nest thermostats installed which allows me to see usage. One unit is refusing to keep a schedule in the thermostat, thus leaving air conditioning on 1 temperature all the time. I have confirmation from one tenant that they work normal business hours and are gone most of the day (tried to schedule home owner insurance inspection and got a response via text with that info).

My question is, how can I go about enforcing them to set a thermostat schedule? Do I have legal standing to enforce it with the verbiage in the lease addendum they all signed? I will attempt to work through it with them first, but if they continue to refuse, what recourse do I have legally? Is the verbiage enough? 

Thanks.

Not sure how or if you can enforce it. Also, "Reasonable utilities are included in the monthly rental fee..."  What is reasonable? That is too subjective to be in a rental agreement. If you ever take it to court, you will lose. That is why I have all my places with a sub-meter for each unit and to get away from this issue

Not sure what state you are in but in California - you can not prohibit electric vehicle charging See Calif Civil Code 1947.6. Most states have similar laws

https://leginfo.legislature.ca...

The below is from https://www.kts-law.com/electr...

For residential leases signed, renewed or extend on or after July 1, 2015, landlords are required to approve a tenant’s written request to install an electric vehicle charging station at the tenant’s parking space if the tenant enters into a written agreement which includes requirements regarding the installation, use, maintenance and removal of the charging station, requires the tenant pay for all modifications, and requires the tenant to maintain a $1,000,000 general liability insurance policy. The charging station and modifications must comply with all applicable laws and covenants, conditions and restrictions. The tenant is required to pay the cost associated with the electric usage of the charging station. The landlord is not required to provide the tenant with an additional parking space in order to comply with this law. This law does not apply: (1) when parking is not included as part of the rental contract; (2) to properties with fewer than five parking spaces; (3) to properties subject to rent control (unless either (1) a lease is executed, extended, or renewed on or after January 1, 2019, or (2) the unit is within a jurisdiction that adopted an ordinance before January 1, 2018 requiring the landlord to approve a tenant’s request to install an electric vehicle charging station at the tenant’s parking space); (4) when 10% or more of existing spaces already have electric vehicle charging stations

HI Jeff and thanks for the reply. That was my concern, as the wording is not quantifiable. We will correct that at 1 year renewal time period and I am starting the process of looking into sub-metering the 2 units so I don't have to deal with this in the future. 

Do you believe there is any grounds to enforce due to the verbiage of "not running heating or air conditioning when not home"? Really all i'm after is getting them to use a thermostat schedule, so it's not on as much when they're not home. 

Do you have any information on sub-metering? I am finding it difficult to locate information from the utility company. I'm not subject to any HOA and the additional unit is permitted with it's own sub-panel. I just need to get the 2 units metered on their own utility accounts....

I figured i would share some solutions I'm thinking of and see if anyone has thoughts on those as well.

1. I've contacted the utility company to see if sub-metering is allowed with 2 separate accounts so that future tenant can assume responsibility.

2. An electrician has told me they can install analog meters on each sub panel, allowing me to manually calculate util usage each month and bill the tenant for it directly, while keeping the utilities in my name.

Any thoughts on either of these would be appreciated. 

Something else to keep in mind.  It's actually a misconception that turning off the a/c or heater all day saves on electricity.  It generally does not.  It's more energy efficient to adjust the thermostat a few degrees from the normal desired temperature, when someone is going to be gone for hours.

Reason being, then the system will occasionally come on throughout the day to maintain the temperature.  But if it's turned off, then the house will get almost as hot or cold as the outside temperature is.  So, when the person gets home, the system is now fighting an uphill battle to get the temperature back to the desired one.  And it could take hours of running constantly to do that.

So, yes, the tenant who is ignoring you about this should at least be adjusting their thermostat a few degrees to help keep your utility costs down.  And this tenant might be much more amenable to that anyway.  But you actually don't want either tenant to be turning them off completely.