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Tenant's Electric Bill over $650

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by JoshuaLuke, Jan 11, 2021.

  1. JoshuaLuke

    JoshuaLuke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Jurisdiction:
    New Mexico
    New tenants moved in November 15. They received their November and December electricity bill early in January only to find that they ran up a very high bill (over $650). Turns out they were using the baseboard heaters as a primary source of heat instead of the Pellet Stove. The baseboard heaters are supposed to supplement the Pellet Stove heater not be used by themselves. We did not know how inefficient these baseboard heaters were since we have only had one renter live in this rental and she never complained about her electric bill or heating this home. She said that her highest electric bill was about $130. Now, these new renters want us to pay $500 of the electric bill, return their security deposit and end the lease early. They have 1 month left on the lease. They claim that the house is not warming up and that the refrigerator does not stop running. When we try to go look at the refrigerator they give us the run around. We are installing new gas heaters within the next week and will go look at the refrigerator tomorrow. So question is...are we liable to pay the electric bill? What are our options. Also, on a personal level...what do you think is the fair thing to do? For them and for us?
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    In my opinion, the "right" thing to do would be to offer to split the electric bill.
    Legally, you have no obligation to pay their electric bill.

    Either way, there is no reason you need to allow them to end their lease early.
     
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  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    No. Let them move out in a month while you make necessary repairs and find a new tenant.
     
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  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    No.

    There are plenty of options. Wouldn't make any sense to try to list them all. One option should be obvious: Say "no" to all of their demands and hold them to the terms and conditions of the lease.

    Fair is where you go on rides and eat cotton candy. Your rental is your business. Treat it as such. Tenants will walk all over you if you let them.
     
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  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    You entered into a 3-month lease of residential property?

    Ummm...is that supposed to be a bad thing?

    Nothing in your post suggests you are.

    Options for what? You told us that your tenants "want [you] to pay $500 of the electric bill, return their security deposit and end the lease early." You don't really need us to tell you that your options are to say yes or no or propose some middle ground, do you?

    Agree.
     
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  6. JoshuaLuke

    JoshuaLuke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you. A few days ago, tenants mentioned they would be turning off electricity. They made some outlandish claims such as that the refrigerator was connected with an extension cord (which ended up being false) so therefore they couldn't use it, they were using coolers. They claimed that there is something wrong with the wiring in the house because lights dim when tankless water heater is on (my husband checked and lights dim for less than a second). We were trying to find a mutual time to enter the home with a heating and gas plumber to install new heaters (because they indicated that the pellet stove was not enough to warm up the whole house and they did not want to use the baseboard heaters) and they threatened to call the police if we went into their home without their permission (I am still learning about tenant/landlord laws and I did not want to risk anything by entering without a 24 hour notice). It is not that easy to find a contractor that is available at any time. Finally, with a 24 hour notice to enter we met with tenant husband and were able to enter the house. They have so many different electrical appliances--from counter top dishwashers, to a glass blower type of machinery, electric coolers, air purifiers, and other type of plug-in heaters. We offered to get new refrigerator installed (because they disconnected the refrigerator and were using coolers). They refused. We offered to get new heating in, they refused. Stated they did not want anything done while they are living there. They did admitted that the baseboard heaters are what ran up the electricity and that they have no experience with baseboard heaters. They have been monitoring the kilowatt usage and have noticed that they are not using as much electricity since turning baseboards off. We also bought them a plug in heater to keep them from being cold. After this, she sent a letter demanding that we pay the full amount of electricity and that they would be staying in the rental till lease ends 2/28/21. Today, she sent a text that they have turned off electricity and that we should change electricity to our name if we do not want our pipes to freeze. We called electric company and this is confirmed (she has been telling us so many lies so I wasn't sure what to believe). I did not change electricity to my name. We were trying to get an electrician to come out, but now he indicated that he cannot inspect it without the electricity being on. She mentioned that she would love to see us in court...What is my next step? I did post a Seven-Day Notice of NonCompliance With Rental Agreement. The lease clearly states that failing to maintain utilities is a cause to terminate tenancy. When we went in yesterday, we noticed that they are blocking the living room door with a bed, since they are actually using the bedroom as storage. They are also blocking windows because they are storing most of their stuff in the house since they were not able to find a storage unit in our town. That is also noncompliant with the lease.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
  7. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Joshua, I deleted your other thread which contained the same post as post number 6 in this thread. It's not necessary to start new threads on anything related to the original topic. Please keep all future discussion on this matter in this thread. Thanks.
     
  8. JoshuaLuke

    JoshuaLuke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Okay.
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Joshua, at this point all I can suggest is that you carefully and thoroughly study the NM landlord tenant statute and learn what it takes to get rid of a problem tenant, the notice requirements, and the eviction procedure.

    2019 New Mexico Statutes :: Chapter 47 - Property Law :: Article 8 - Owner-Resident Relations

    You certainly appear to have grounds for termination of tenancy.

    I hope you photographed everything that was going on in that house. If not, do it when next you visit.
     
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  10. JoshuaLuke

    JoshuaLuke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I wanted to offer to pay but they (the wife) has been so disrespectful that it almost feels like they are trying to bully us into it.
     
  11. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    I was a landlord for 20 years. I would have given a tenant termination notice the minute I saw what you described. Get rid of these people as soon as possible and quit talking to them, lest they wear you down.
     
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  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    That sounds like something that should be a violation of your lease agreement. If so, get an eviction started.
     
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  13. JoshuaLuke

    JoshuaLuke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    We did!
     

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