If my landlord is using my electrical outlet for his own use, what legal action can I take?

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If my landlord is using my electrical outlet for his own use, what legal action can I take?

On a number of occasions, my electric bill has been bigger than I would have expected. I asked my landlord if I was paying any of the electric for the basement. He said no. I just discovered his washing machine plugged into my outlet. After testing the fuses, I also found out all the lights in the basement and 1 outlet are on my meter. My landlord has had a dehumidifier plugged in, plus a freexer, and uses power tools plugged into the above-mentioned outlet. I am considering just not paying him rent for a month or 2 to recoup the money that I spent over last nearly 2 years.

Asked on August 30, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Do NOT simply not pay your landlord--if you do so, you will be in breach of your lease, and could be sued and/or evicted.

2) However, the landlord has no right to charge you for his electricity (unless, that is, the lease says he can--e.g. you agreed to pay all electrical charges, including landlord's). You should speak with an attorney, because you may be able to sue the landlord to recoup the additional charges. You'd need to provide evidence of the power theft, as well as evidence of what your bills or charges should have been in the absence of the theft of electricity from you. It could be a large amount, and would be worthwhile speaking with a lawyer about. Good luck.


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