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Unusually High Electric Bill Responsibility

Discussion in 'Living in, Use of the Premises' started by DC77, Jan 2, 2018.

  1. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I have an issue with unusually high electric bills for the past 6 months. My landlord has been very diligent working on this with me, but so far we're at a loss. Something is definitely wrong with the electric but without being able to pinpoint error, I'm being held liable.

    I live in a highrise where all electric is done through the intermediation of the condo complex. The bill gets sent to my landlord, then copied to me to include with rent. I've lived there for 3 years and electric has always been consistent. The range has always been $50-$80 depending on time of year. (the place is only 300 sq feet). In July there was an unusual jump to $125. I got in touch with the landlord right away and he ended up replacing the AC. But the next month it jumped to $155. I unplugged the new AC and we did a wait and see but it continued jumping up each month. So he replaced the water heater. It peaked at $195 in November. That's triple the average! And has leveled at $185 for the past 2 months; even after the water heater replacement.

    The landlord has been really trying to help, but we haven't been able to figure it out. Nothing has changed in my living style or electric use. Our next step is to contact the condo management and get the meter checked. I question their reliability as they're not in a hurry to help or find a solution and they have a "reader" who is not associated with the electric company. In the meantime, I'm being held liable for the extra $500 in electric bill overages.

    Two questions. One, what other options do we have to get to the bottom of the electric issue if the meter is determined to be okay by this third party? (things can be shady here in Hawaii) And two, am I liable for anything above and beyond the historical average when something is clearly askew?
     
  2. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    Why would you think anyone else would be responsible for your electric bill? If you haven't already have you called the electric company to see what might be behind it? Talked to your neighbors to see if they are experiencing the same? Hired an electrician to look for problems including with appliances you own?
     
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  3. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Why? Because something is wrong with the condo that is causing the electric to be trippled. I don't own the apartment and I don't own any of the appliances. Maintenance and issues are the responsibility of the landlord per the lease. I should only be responsible for the electric I use not for something that is malfunctioning by no cause of me or average use. I believe it is the responsibility of the landlord or building management to figure out and I shouldn't be carrying the cost in the meantime.

    Electric is not dealt with directly with the electric company. There is a condo association and they hire a third party to come out and read/monitor/maintain the meters. They will not allow us to deal with the electric company at this point.

    I have not talked to neighbors, but I could do that. My landlord did have maintenance come in, but honestly, they walked around and said they didn't know what they were looking for. I can suggest an electrician.
     
  4. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    It seems like talking to the neighbors and calling the electric company would be the first things you would do. Apart from that, unless you negotiated a set amount towards utilities as part of your lease, what those utilities cost is what those utilities cost. I'm not sure why you assume it is some appliance of fault of the owner, especially without checking on any rate increases or experiences of your neighbors. The big ticket items and likely causes have been replaced at cost to the landlord erroneously. If you are looking for something in the law that would require your landlord to pick up the cost, there isn't anything unless you negotiated a set rate as part of your lease.
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Until you ascertain the factual cause of the problem, discussing legalities is meaningless.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Sorry, but the onus is on you to figure out what is going on. Let me explain why. You have a contract with your landlord to pay him the amount of the electric bill no matter what that amount is.

    If nobody else can figure it out, the conclusion is that you are incurring the charges and you are stuck with paying it unless YOU figure it out.

    That means YOU hire an electrician to inspect your unit, your appliances, the breaker box and the meter. YOU talk to the neighbors. YOU call the electric company. Nobody's stopping you from doing that just because they say so.

    Understand that the money is coming out of your pocket so nobody else has the incentive to figure it out more than you do.
     
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  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    In many of these situations someone is stealing electricity from you.
    Usually a clever neighbor is hijacking your electricity by tapping into your wiring.

    An electrician can investigate and find out if a culprit is pilfering your Reddy Kilowatts.
     
    mightymoose likes this.
  8. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thanks for the input...

    Again, I do not have any connection or authority over the electricity. It is handled as part of the ownership of the condo between management and my landlord. A third party "reader" reads the meter. Sends it to the electric company. Bills Management. Management bills my landlord. And he tells me an amount each month with a copy of the statement.

    I spoke to the electric company anyways, they do not have any involvement with the individual units. Electricity has to be handled between the landlord and building management. I'm powerless in that manner.

    There has not been any rate increase. I did check.

    The landlord also has an obligation by contract to provide a condo in good working order. Something is not in good working order.

    I have not changed anything from when I moved in 3 years ago. I use the same lamp. The same phone charger. And the same computer. That is all I own that plugs into the wall. None were determined to be high usage items or concerns by my landlord...

    I have also not been home to use the apartment during the November holidays. There should have been a drop in usage. There wasn't.

    Building management forced my landlord to replace the AC for condensation reasons. The water heater was determined to be malfunctioning and was replaced as a flooding precautionary.

    No I didn't talk to the neighbors. I went to my landlord, maintenance, and building management. Since I'm not the owner, I can't do much. But I will get input from my neighbors.

    Building management is sending their third party "reader" in to investigate at the cost of $150. Again, this is not my condo and not my appliances. By contract, landlord is obligated for the maintenance, replacement, and working order of the rental space.
     
  9. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'll look into this as well. Thank you!
     
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    Ditto on the electrician. They can do some troubleshooting and pinpoint where the power goes.
    I suspect someone is tapped into your line.
     
  11. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Okay. I went back and did a check and recorded my usage since I moved in. My average usage has been between 330 and 380. Then a sudden jump in July. It has remained in the 850+ range since. That's enough usage for 2 condos. So my next question. What do I do if someone has been tapping into my electric??
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You need to contact an electrician, have him or her review your wiring, and see if someone is stealing electricity from you.

    If the electrician discovers that is the case, ask him to write a report so indicating.

    Once you have the written report, you cal the police and make a report.

    In your case, the condo association, or whatever name they go by will have to be informed.

    But, you still don;t know why until you've arranged for an electrician to investigate.

    The electrician might find nothing, if that happens, you're back at square one.
     
  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Well-Known Member

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    You might even contact the power company and ask them to investigate. There may be a meter nearby that took a significant drop around the time yours increased.
    There could also be a problem on their side of the equipment.
     
  14. ElleMD

    ElleMD Well-Known Member

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    If you do find that someone has been "stealing" your electric, your remedy is the same as if they stole anything else. Your landlord has no part in that.
     
  15. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Prove it. The onus is on you.
     
  16. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Finally had someone take a look today. I had to wait for the electrical contractor to fly out here from the mainland. He discovered that the hot water heater is malfunctioning. It's cycling itself off and on without use or reason, even with the thermostat low. He watched it for an hour.

    Strangely, the issue started with an old water heater. Yet if has continued with this new one. He doesn't have an explanation, but it is definitively a malfunction with the water heater. Everything else was deemed in good working order.

    So now what?? I'm into $600 of overpayment for a malfunctioning water heater. Do I have any rights??
     
  17. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You probably have no rights other than to discuss the matter with the electric utility.

    The city or county building inspections department might be interested in looking into the matter.

    As suggested earlier, it might be time to move, if you don't relish being burned to a crisp in an electrical fire.
     
  18. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you all. My landlord and I discussed the results last night and he is going to allow me to deduct the overages from rent. Something I very much appreciate.

    He is continuing to work on the issue to make sure the place is safe and functional. I will be leaving the island in May and moving out eventually. It's not easy finding housing here, let alone on short notice for only a couple of months, so I'm very glad we have been able to talk something out.
     
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  19. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Between the NUCLEAR attacks and outrageous electric bills, plus the inordinate, extreme cost of living, island life was far more idyllic on Gilligan's Island.

    Why?

    Because EVERYTHING was FREE for the making. ROTFLMFAO :D
     
  20. DC77

    DC77 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    You said it Sir!!
     

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