Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Electric Troubles

I believe most of my readers are aware that we rent and don't own and live in a multi family home. We have lived here for five years the end of this month. Actually, we used to live on the third floor, but two years ago we moved down to the second floor because it was more room. So understandably our electric bill went up. We didn't think anything of it because it was a bigger apartment.

Recently I have noticed that my usage seems a little high. In May it was higher this year than the year before. The upstairs tenants had just gotten a washer/dryer so I began to wonder if the increase in our bill might have been because somehow their power was on our power. I didn't investigate though. However, I have noticed that things haven't gotten any better. We have been using the same amount of electricity as last year at this time, but last year we had our window unit a/c's in. This year we decided to save some money we would try to get by without the air conditioners. And we have, but our electric bill isn't reflecting this savings.

So the other day I e-mailed the electric company explaining my concern that other tenants power is hooked up to our power. I don't think our landlord would be very receptive to us telling him of this possible problem so I wanted someone to help us figure this out.

Their response to me was we are using the same electricity so basically they really didn't see a problem. The third floor also uses more electricity than we do (they have a/c's in) so basically our charges are legit. However, she said it's possible their washer/dryer is hooked up to our electric and we could turn off our power and see if their machines stay on. So we ran this test tonight and discovered that the basement (a common area of the house) is all on our electric. Their washer/dryer is not, but the lights in the basement are. We are unaware of what else could be on our electricity.

So I did some research on what our rights as tenants are and found that we don't have to pay the electric of common areas. So we have two options. One, we could have the bill put in our landlords name and he pays the entire bill or two we can take off what we believe the cost of that electricity is from our rent. If we did the latter though we could get evicted and would have to then prove in court why we paid less for rent. I knew that we'd have to get in touch with the electric company though to find out if anything else was on our power that we couldn't tell ourselves.

So I called them and they are going to have to come out and do an investigation. They'll need to find out what exactly is on our power that shouldn't be. Once they do that they'll send a letter to our landlord who will then have fifteen days to repair the problem. If he does not repair the problem in those fifteen days then our electric bill will be put in his name and he'll be responsible for paying our electricity.

Now as far as all those years we've been paying this increased electricity well they obviously can't figure out just how much we've over paid over that time. So we'll have to work something out with our landlord whether he pays us something or we pay less rent for a certain amount of time.

This is all such a mess. Our lease was supposed to have been renewed by now, but of course our landlord is late with that. So now that we've brought up this problem we're worried that he's just going to tell us to leave. Although, either way he's still going to have to prove to the electric company that he remedied this problem. In other words no matter what he's going to have to do this work. I'm sure it's not going to be cheap for him. And he likes to do things by himself too. Which of course takes longer and does not get done right. Remember this post? He's still not done with that work. This sort of job seems way out of his league though so hopefully he sees that and hires someone to do it. It's all such a mess.


Chelle said...

Oh my gosh. What a mess. I am so sorry you are dealing with all of this. I hope it gets fixed and keep us posted on what happens.
Can you turn your a/c back on now?