Can the electric company make us pay for electric before we moved in?

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Can the electric company make us pay for electric before we moved in?

I have lived in my apartment for 3 years, the 1st year we were living here me and my boyfriend were working on a cruise ship. We didn’t turn on the electric right away because we weren’t really living there; we would come home maybe 1 day a month. We were always surprised the electric was still on. We put the electric in our name when we started living there full time. Now the PUC is coming after us for $1234 for that year + 8 months before we moved in. They basically said you have to pay it or they are going to shut off our electric, we have always paid our electric bill on time. What do we do?

Asked on October 1, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The issue is whether or not the electricity was on in your apartment during that time. If it was on, then you would be responsible for either actual charges or at least any minimums which the utility charges. It may be the case that the electricity *had* to be on--leases, for example, often require the tenants to maintain utilities--or it may be the case that you did not make sure it was properly turned off and that the utility knew it was to be turned off.

So, if off--or if you did everything you should have done to make sure it was off and someone else (e.g. at the power company; or your landlord) erred in turning it on, you probably don't have to pay (though proving this may be difficult); if on (including where you wanted it off, but didn't deactivate it properly), you would have to pay.


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