If my landlord is avoiding having an energy audit done audit, shouldn’t she have to help cover the cost of high electric usage?

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If my landlord is avoiding having an energy audit done audit, shouldn’t she have to help cover the cost of high electric usage?

I am renting a 3/2 single story house. My electric bill went from $250 about 5 months ago, to $460 now. I have made the landlord aware of the issue and asked her to send a letter to the electric company giving them consent to do a free energy audit of the house. She suggested I clean the ac filter and I’ve changed it several times but there has to be something wrong either the ac or the water heater. She seems to be avoiding the audit which makes me believe she doesn’t want the electric company to point out bigger issues. Shouldn’t she have to help cover the cost of high electric usage if there’s problems with the appliances?

Asked on June 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If there is higher-than-normal energy costs due to the landlord's failure to maintain or replace appliances, then the landlord may be liable for that extra cost, since it is due to her negligence and breach of her obligation as a landlord to keep the rental premises utilities in good working order. That is the theoretical answer. Practically, as someone who has had several similar cases, I can tell you that unless the landord chooses to voluntarily compensate you, it is very difficult to get compensation from the courts. You have to be able to *prove* both the reason for the high costs and what the costs would have been in the absence of the problems, which generally takes immensely detailed paperwork (e.g. energy bills over a period of time), reports from electricians, the utility, or contractors who are knowledgeable about and inspect the appliances, and possibly testimony from one or more electricians, etc. Courts will not just infer that some problem causes higher costs; you have to prove it by a preponderance of the evidence.


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