HellBill » Bills Categories: » Electric Bill » Can my residential landlord cut off power to save on the electric bill?

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  #1 (permalink)
Kay
: I'm renting a room from a very shady couple. After I moved in, the individual AC cut off and they refused to fix it because they claim I don't pay enough rent, although $450 was the amount agreed to. So I used the ceiling fan in my room. They asked me not to do that because they want to save money. So I bought my own little $20 fan from Wal-Mart. They said I don't need it because its not that hot, (i live in san Diego county where we just had 9 wildfires in a weekend. It's really hot) and they keep tripping the breaker, which is in their room, and cutting off power to my room. This caused my mini fridge to leak while I was work and damage the hard wood floors and all my food spoiled. They say I don't need lights at night because I should be sleeping. I'm a college student who works full time and I do my homework at night. Can they legally do this? And am I responsible for the damage to the floors?

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  #2 (permalink)
: First, be sure and document everything, with dates, times, what they did and what it caused.

No, they have no right to cut off your power or to tell you that you cannot use the existing fan or to tell you that you cannot use your own fan and they have a DUTY to repair or replace the AC, because you rented the room with an AC.

I feel bad for you but, they need to understand they have no right to do to you what they did.

Here is what to tell them and, I suggest you put it in writing, politely, however. Tell them:
"""""
1. $450 a month was the agreed-upon rent WITH an AC. I am entitled to the use of an AC in my room;
2. The ceiling fan in my room is there for my use if I want to use it;
3. You have no right to tell me whether I need to use a fan or not. It is up to me and if I am hot, I will decide whether or not to turn it on, not you.
4. If you had not cut off the power to my room in an attempt to save money, my mini fridge would not have shut off and leaked and your floors would not have been ruined. As I see it, you are no only responsible for any floor damage yourself but, you owe me about $___ for spoiled food.
5. You have no right to tell me when I need lights and when I do not. I am not your child who you can tell when I should be sleeping. I will decide when I will turn out the light and go to sleep.

I can understand that you want to save money, but I pay for all of this in my rent and I am entitled to it and I do not want to see my power cut off anymore. I hope we can still get along after these issues. All I want is the respect I deserve, my privacy to go to bed when I want and am entitled to having the AC repaired so, since it is June, I am expecting that will be done soon. """""

So, no, they cannot legally do this and NO, you are NOT responsible for the damage to the floors. If they try and get money out of you for it, do not give in. If they harass you, report them to Consumer & Corporate Affairs - not sure which department - see if you can find out on one of these links and good luck:
http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/catenant.pdf
http://www.tenantslegalcenter.com/
http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/sdhcd/landlords/landlord_information.html
http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/appendix3.shtml
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  #3 (permalink)
: I don't know that they're a "shady" couple, though they're likely not pros and aren't used to managing a renter. They probably just thought they'd get some extra income from a spare room... but you're actually likely using up more of the rent than they expected.

If there were certain things like AC expected when you moved in, they don't get to go around changing stuff on you. You may or may not be responsible for floor damage. Did you have permission to bring in the fridge?

In the big picture, you probably really aren't paying enough rent. Yes, I know what you agreed to, but that's super low, even for a room. And San Diego is not that hot. It may be dry, but seriously, it's not that hot. Something like 80 degree weather did not start the fires.

Anyway, there are probably legal issues with what they're doing. If you want to consult a local attorney or legal service, the main thing they'll likely be able to do is get you out of your lease without penalty. Are you ready to move out?
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  #4 (permalink)
: http://www.landlordology.com/california-landlord-tenant-laws/

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml

A dwelling also may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following:139

Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system.
Gas facilities in good working order.
Heating facilities in good working order.
An electric system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order.
Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
Adequate trash receptacles in good repair.
Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.

Consider telling them if they cut off the power again you will file a complaint. The damage was caused by their actions, they are liable for those damages in my opinion. If you are living there, a fridge would typically be expected to be there so it's not like they can claim you shouldn't have had one and therefore the damage was due to you having it.
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