Is a landlord responsible for excess utility costs if his property’s electrical system is out of code and results in a safety issue?

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Is a landlord responsible for excess utility costs if his property’s electrical system is out of code and results in a safety issue?

The property that I rent has seen a doubling in electrical utility costs. Upon investigation by an electrician the wiring coming from the electric company’s service to the circuit breaker box was not within code. The wiring had burned through the wire insulation and was arcing against the box, causing the electric to run at a much faster rate. The wiring was replaced with the proper size to meet code but, we have been left with a bill for electric that is double our usual rate.

Asked on September 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you have a written lease for the property that you are renting, read it carefully in that it sets forth the obligations that you owe the landlord and vice versa in the absence of conflicting state law. If the lease has provisions regarding maintenance and repairs, its provision will most likely answer you question as to whose responsibility it is for the excessive electrical bill due to lack of code compliance with respect to the breaker box.

Most likely the landlord would be responsible for the excess electrical charges due to lack of code compliance of the rented unit. The rationale is that under the laws of each state, a landlord is required to provide safe premises for his or her tenant.

The problem with the electrical box posed a safety issue until rectified. The landlord had an obligation to make reasonable inspections of the rental to make sure its condition was safe.


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