Utility Account Recovery

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Utility Account Recovery

My girlfriend and I are moving into a new place, which requires us to have electric turned on. The electric bill at my old place is in my name, with my girlfriend as an authorized person to make changes. When I went to transfer my account from the old location to the new location, the utility company refused service to me, because she has an outstanding balance with them from 6 or so years ago. To me, it seems they are punishing me, due to her debt even though we are not married. When I asked them why I couldn’t open another account in my name only, they responded with, you would have to produce a lease that shows she isn’t living there. I feel like this is illegal.

Asked on July 6, 2017 under Business Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is legal. Utilities do not need to provide service to people with open or unpaid balances; that includes not providing services to homes where such people live, even if others live with them. (That's why you would have to produce a lease for her from someplace else, to provide proof she doesn't live there.) Remember: utilities may be under certain government regulation, but they are private companies: and like any other private company, they don't need to do business with those who do not pay them. You are not being punished by the utility--you are suffering because your girlfriend breached her legal obligation to pay for her utilities and failed to pay her lawful debts. She can clear this up for you by paying the amount she should have paid in the first place; or she can get her own place, so you are not impacted by her default.


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