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  1. #1
    kisuraa is offline Junior Member
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    Can a Utility Company Do This?

    Late last year I signed a lease with another person for a house in Missouri. Utilities were not included with rent. At the time I owed a small amount to the city's utility company for an old apartment, so the other tenant agreed to put the utilities in their name. I was paying them half the utility bill every month.

    Very long story short, that person broke the lease, moved out, and took the utilities out of her name, resulting in them being reverted to the landlord's name, who was NOT happy about that. I paid off my old bill to the utility company, but they refuse to transfer utilities into my name. The ex-roommate left a outstanding balance on the utility account for the house.

    They are now refusing to transfer power into my name, stating that since I lived there during the time the power was used, I benefited from the services and are therefore equally liable for the bill. This bill is NOT in my name, and I had already paid half of that outstanding balance to the roommate.

    I have since signed a new lease with another person, so the original roommate is no longer on the lease and is considered to have broken the lease by moving out without official notice or paying a buy-out fee.

    I have a brand-new lease with myself and a new person, and they are refusing to turn utilities on in my name until I pay this bill that is not in my name. The landlord is shutting utilities off on the house in two days.

    What can I do? I cannot live in a house with no power, and I cannot afford to pay off a bill that is not even mine. Especially since I have already paid half of that same bill to the original roommate, but it did not get paid to the utility company.

    Can they hold me accountable for a bill in someone else's name, and refuse me service? This person is not even on the lease anymore - a brand new one-year lease was signed with myself and the new tenant, we did not just sign an amendment. It's a whole new lease.
    Last edited by kisuraa; 04-21-2009 at 02:32 AM.
  2. #2
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Your only option may be to pay off the amount owed simply because you lived there AND get a copy of the utilitys policy and put it with copy of the bill you paid off and sue the former roomate in small claims court to get your money back , of course you will have to bring with you your reciepts showing the court you did pay the roomate once already.
  3. #3
    Cvillecpm is offline Senior Member
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    You need to leave the property or pay your bill....kudos to the utility company.....finally, they get that they need to do CREDIT CHECKS for customers....receiving utility service is not an automatic RIGHT!!!!
  4. #4
    treese is offline Senior Member
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    The long and short of it is ... the utility company CAN do this.

    They are refusing you service unless and until the old bill is paid in full.

    You were on a lease with another person and lived there during the time that the power was used, you got the benefit of their utilities, which the utility company was not paid for.

    It does not matter if it is a new lease, your name is on the lease, they can and will refuse service until the old bill is paid off. Your new roommate will be refused service if they try to get the utility in their name because the utility company can demand a copy of the lease and refuse service if there are other tenants (you) that owe them money.

    As FarmerJ already stated, your only option is to pay the balance due and sue your ex-roommate in Small Claims court.
  5. #5
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    The person responsible for the utility bill is the accountholder not the mutual users. The utility provider can only demand payment from the accountholder. To establish new utility service, the utility provider can deny service based upon the former outstanding bill in the new accountholder’s name. The new accountholder cannot be held responsible for the bill in another person's name. Provide the utility company with the contact information for the original accountholder for collection.
    Contact the Missouri State Public Service Commission for more specific information.
  6. #6
    akiraakita is offline Junior Member
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    A Los Angeles Utility can refuse/ turn off service based on a roommate's bill... BUT

    The utility company can penalize you if your roommate left the bill unpaid. They can under a clause called "Benefit of Use." HOWEVER, you do have some recourse, contact California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Office, (Headquarters, 505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102, 415.703.2782, 800.848.5580. They will at least contact the utility and try to get them to make some kind of arrangement with you, rather than shut-off.
  7. #7
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by akiraakita View Post
    The utility company can penalize you if your roommate left the bill unpaid. They can under a clause called "Benefit of Use." HOWEVER, you do have some recourse, contact California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco Office, (Headquarters, 505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102, 415.703.2782, 800.848.5580. They will at least contact the utility and try to get them to make some kind of arrangement with you, rather than shut-off.
    Oh brother, where to start?!?

    First, this thread is 3 years old. The problem was solved LONG ago.

    Second, what in the heck would the CALIFORNIA PUC have to do with a situation in MISSOURI?


    Awesome first post
  8. #8
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    Since the thread has been updated ...
    Generally, the utility company will hold the landlord accountable for unpaid account balances or disconnect the services. In this case, either the landlord or the tenants advised the utility company of the new lease agreement and former lease conditions. The utility company does not find the current tenant (you) to be creditworthy because of a prior outstanding balance. The utility company does not find the current tenant (you) to be credible because you occupied the premises prior to the current outstanding balance and still occupy the premises with the current outstanding balance.
    The only other option the tenant (you) has is to pay the outstanding utility balance in order to restore service, and sue both the utility company and the former tenant roommate for the unpaid balance prior to the new lease agreement.
  9. #9
    Who's Liable? is offline Senior Member
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    Another thing to note, even though this thread is LONG dead, is that the LL made a BIG mistake by putting the utilties in THEIR name.
    Now, they cannot shut off the utilties to try and force the tenant to pay or transfer said bill into their name. It can be viewed as constructive eviction.
  10. #10
    Searchertwin is offline Senior Member
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    Can they hold me accountable for a bill in someone else's name, and refuse me service?[/B] This person is not even on the lease anymore - a brand new one-year lease was signed with myself and the new tenant, we did not just sign an amendment. It's a whole new lease.
    It's a new lease under the SAME utility company that has an OUTSTANDING bill that has one of the SAME PERSON listed.
    It can't be explain any simpler.

    At the time I owed a small amount to the city's utility company for an old apartment,
    I paid off my old bill to the utility company, but they refuse to transfer utilities into my name.
    Usually, they want a deposit. Which you didn't mention. Put up a deposit, pay the bill and they will turn the electric in your name.

    I cannot live in a house with no power, and I cannot afford to pay off a bill that is not even mine.
    I have already paid half of that same bill to the original roommate, but it did not get paid to the utility company.
    Not being able to pay is not the utility fault. They provide a service that requires payment.
    Why can't you understand that yes, this is a bill that is yours. Utility company doesn't care if you paid your room mate, they weren't paid.

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