As a tenant can we be held responsible for an undisclosed electric bill?

We are a small business and recently moved into a new space. We attempted to have the electricity transferred to our name. Unfortunately, according to the electric company, there is a $5K balance from an unknown entity.The electric company says the former tenant closed their account in good standing. And, the account isn’t in the building owner’s name. So, while it makes no sense, the electric company is suggesting someone illegally hooked up the power for 18 months while the space was vacant and now they are refusing to transfer the account to us until the bill is paid. They are also claiming they will shut off the electricity in a week.

Asked on September 25, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You as a tenant cannot be legally held accountable to pay an electrical bill for a period of time before you even moved into the commerical unit under the laws of all states in this country.

Your landlord needs to pay off this bill so you can move in. If he or she fails to do so, the landlord will be in breach of your lease agreement.

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