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Light bill issue.

WhimStyle
Valued Member

Light bill issue.

So in the last 4-months (Sept-Dec) living with my roommates at my old place back in 2020, the light bill went unpaid. The last person on the lease moved out, I was moving, and no one else that was staying there wanted to put their name on the lease for whatever reason.

 

Since the light bill (PSEG) was in the name of the person who was on the lease and that person left, there hasn't been a name on the light bill since. For there to be, the landlord has to come by with a new lease, but none of those remaining roommates requested it. None of the roommates there are on the original lease. The landlord didn't mind that people were coming in, as long as the rent was paid on time. So the light bill has been unpaid for a year now and is estimated to be around $4000.

 

I'm posting this because I plan to go back there and make that place my home, it's a great spot, and I'll have my own floor. I hope to put my name on the lease but that means I'll inherit the bill. What should I do here. Should I pay off the entire balance and request they all pay me back?

 

I'm also wondering how hasn't the power been shut off by now? It's a 5 bedroom for $2000, and once everyone moves out, I can potentially take the whole place.

7/2021






Current Cards: Amex Gold/ Schwab Investor Amex: $4,000/ Apple Card: $3,000/ COQS1: $750/ COS: $500
Message 1 of 22
21 REPLIES 21
disdreamin
Established Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.

If it were me, I'd contact the utility company as a new renter and ask that service at the property be initiated in your name on your move-in date/first day of your lease. You should not be held responsible for back payments since that bill was not in your name. That debt is the responsibility of the tenant whose name was previously on the bill. You have nothing to do with that debt, other than (morally) owing your fair portion of it [edited to add for clarity: you owe this to the tenant whose name the bill was in, not the utility company].

 

Under no circumstances would I agree to pay any past-due portion of the bill to the utility company. Your responsibility to them should begin the day your lease starts.

Message 2 of 22
SoCalGardener
Frequent Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.

Personally, I wouldn't pay any portion of that bill, as it was not my responsibility. And I don't see how the electric company or the landlord can in any way hold you responsible for paying the arrears. It just legally and logically doesn't make sense! It's their problem that they never shut off the service, and that they let the bill go unpaid for a year.

 

I'm confused by something, though. I've never heard of a utility account having NO NAME on it! Okay, the original guy on the lease moved out. If he contacted the power company to tell them, at that point they either should've shut off service or insisted on getting the new responsible party's information. If he didn't contact them, how do they know he left? And why did they remove his name from the account?

 

I grew up in a family with many rental properties throughout the LA area, including office buildings. As I always understood it, the tenant who initiated having utilities turned on--in their name--was responsible for those utilities until he told them to shut it off, even if he moved out without telling them, and the bill kept running (until shut off for non-payment), it was his responsibility legally. I'm really baffled here because the scenario you've presented doesn't make sense to me!

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Message 3 of 22
WhimStyle
Valued Member

Re: Light bill issue.

It doesn't make sense to me as well. When the guy who had his name on it moved out. He told me he had called them to let them know he was moving out. I don't know how any of it works, but he was the one who had his name on it last.

 

All he left was the account number for the place, so I was thinking maybe we still had a valid account number on file but a name wasn't on it. I didn't verify with him, but he made it seem like he called them, told them that he wasnt living there anymore and that's it. Didn't clarify if they removed his name or not.

7/2021






Current Cards: Amex Gold/ Schwab Investor Amex: $4,000/ Apple Card: $3,000/ COQS1: $750/ COS: $500
Message 4 of 22
Dinosaur
Moderator Emeritus

Re: Light bill issue.

How could the bill be $4000? Unreal!
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Message 5 of 22
WhimStyle
Valued Member

Re: Light bill issue.

That's the estimated amount for the last 12 months. I think it should be much lower than that, I was told that figure by the last person who lived there. 

7/2021






Current Cards: Amex Gold/ Schwab Investor Amex: $4,000/ Apple Card: $3,000/ COQS1: $750/ COS: $500
Message 6 of 22
SoCalGardener
Frequent Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.


@WhimStyle wrote:

It doesn't make sense to me as well. When the guy who had his name on it moved out. He told me he had called them to let them know he was moving out. I don't know how any of it works, but he was the one who had his name on it last.

 

All he left was the account number for the place, so I was thinking maybe we still had a valid account number on file but a name wasn't on it. I didn't verify with him, but he made it seem like he called them, told them that he wasnt living there anymore and that's it. Didn't clarify if they removed his name or not.


Just using my own life experience, this makes no sense. I know that when I used to rent, I was responsible for having the utilities turned on and for paying the bills; what the previous tenant did or didn't do had no effect on me. And I also know that when I would move from one house to another, the utilities had to verify that I had no past-due amounts with them before they would start service at the new address; if I did have a balance, that had to be paid BEFORE they'd start new service, AND they'd require a deposit, too. Once I moved out of a house, the bill didn't become the next tenant's responsibility--it was still mine.

 

And, I'm sorry, but the whole concept of an account--in this day and age? where everything is computerized?--with no name on it just doesn't make sense. I was a programmer for many years, and did tons of database programming and data processing, and I've never seen or heard of a business account with no name on it. There's more to this than you're being told, IMHO.

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Message 7 of 22
SoCalGardener
Frequent Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.


@Dinosaur wrote:
How could the bill be $4000? Unreal!

Easy!! Smiley Very Happy

 

Last year, SoCal Edison had some kind of billing glitch. Starting around June, I didn't receive any bills. Now, I've been around the block a few times, you know?! So every month I made a payment based on roughly what that month's bill was a year earlier. FINALLY, this year, I received a SIXTY-SIX PAGE bill!! I don't remember its actual balance, but it was in the thousands. The amount I needed to pay? Less than $100. Smiley Happy

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Message 8 of 22
disdreamin
Established Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.


@Dinosaur wrote:
How could the bill be $4000? Unreal!

For a five-bedroom home as mentioned in the original post? Very easily. That's only $300 a month. If it's all electric, I can see that easily being possible if there were tenants the entire time.

 

Without our solar panels, we'd be looking at ~$3k per year and we don't have anywhere near a five-bedroom home lol

Message 9 of 22
SoCalGardener
Frequent Contributor

Re: Light bill issue.


@disdreamin wrote:

@Dinosaur wrote:
How could the bill be $4000? Unreal!

For a five-bedroom home as mentioned in the original post? Very easily. That's only $300 a month. If it's all electric, I can see that easily being possible if there were tenants the entire time.

 


Definitely. And I've been wondering since reading the OP, where on earth do you get a 5-bedroom house that rents for only $2,000 a month?! The 2-bedroom house next door to me rents for $4,500.

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Message 10 of 22
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