Am I liable for an electric bill that a tenant turned on in my name?

What are my rights when I’m sent the final bill and it’s on my credit report? I was the listing agent and power of attorney for owner. I did not give tenants authority to turn on utlitiles. I only found out after the electric company associated my name with my residential account. They billed me $6900. The company requested a police report and FTC affidavit. This happened 3 years ago but is just affecting my credit now.

Asked on September 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, New York

Answers:

Mark Siegel / Law Office of Mark A. Siegel

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, your question does not contain sufficient information in order to properly & fully evaluate the facts & the law.

NY Public Service Law provides in relevant part as follows: "§ 31. Applications for service. 1. Every gas corporation, electric corporation or municipality shall provide residential service upon the oral or written request of an applicant, provided that the commission may require that requests for service be in writing under circumstances as it deems necessary and proper as set forth by regulation,..." and as further provided under this section of the law.

The procedure for handling complaints is outlined in NY Public Service Law § 43. In addition, Public Service Law § 51 states that" "... The commission shall adopt such additional rules and regulations as it deems necessary and proper to implement the provisions of this act." Those rules, as well as any relevant sections of the Public Service Law should be reviewed to determine if they apply to the facts of your case. 

Documentation (or the absence of documents) may be relevant in resolving the issue of liability for the payment electric service & whether the utility company had the right to hold you responsible for the charges.

It should be determined whether the tenant engaged in fraud in setting up the electric account in your name, & if so, whether you have a legal claim against the tenant. Depending upon the particular facts of your case & the law, an attorney may want to evaluate whether the owner of the property may be liable to you for the amount of the electric charges.

You indicated that this occurred 3 years ago. Accordingly, you should be aware that it is possible that one or more deadlines and/or statutes of limitation exist which may be about to expire, and may bar your ability to pursue your action, or your claims and/or defenses, and/or may work to prevent you from proceeding in the future. If such a deadline or deadlines expire(s) before you act, you may lose valuable rights. Therefore, you should immediately take appropriate legal steps to preserve whatever rights you may have and consult with counsel. 

Additionally, you may want to consult with a reputable, established credit repair expert regarding your right to contest the charges appearing on your credit report & your right to seek the removal of negative information in your credit report. Good luck.

 


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