Can my landlord shutoff my utilities if they areare included in the rent?

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Can my landlord shutoff my utilities if they areare included in the rent?

My utilities are included in my rent but landlord is saying she is shutting them off due to my being 2 weeks behind on rent. Can she do that? My dad is signed a 6 month lease from 07/23/10 ending 01/23/11. He went into the hospital several weeks ago after having a heart attack in the hallway of the apartment building and ended up having open heart surgery. Due to him going into the hospital he was not able to pay his rent with not being able to work. We have filled out the state disability paperwork and are waiting on the money. Is it legal for her to shut off the utilitieswith it being included in the lease and him recovering from open heart surgery? Is it legal for her to shut off our cable to our TV when it is under the lease? Even her craigslist.com ads say that there is no charge for the cable. My dad is getting very upset and worried about this and with his fragile state from the heart surgery, I want to know what we are able to do about this, if anything.

Asked on August 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A landlord cannot legally cut off a tenant's utilities simply because they didn't pay their rent. Landlords should always follow the necessary legal eviction proceedings, rather than simply shutting off utilities.  If they do shut-them off they can be sued by the tenant for money damages.

Note:  The landlord may be entitled to reimbursement for those costs however.


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