When may landlords interrupt a tenant’s utility services being provided by the landlord?
A landlord may NEVER interrupt utility services EXCEPT FOR for repairs, construction or emergencies. Landlord may not interrupt water, gas, and electricity services for any reason (e.g. nonpayment of rent). But there is one exception: Landlords may interrupt electrical services for nonpayment of an electric bill under very narrow set of conditions.
There’s no water in my apartment, and there’s no repair going on to explain the cutoff. What remedies does a tenants have this situation?
- Terminate the lease with written notice within 30 days from the date of cutoff. Don’t withhold last payment of rent.
- File a lawsuit against the landlord for damages, $1000, a months rent, and attorney fees.
How and under what circumstances may a landlord interrupt electric service for nonpayment of an electric bill?
- The landlords cutoff right is spelled out in lease signed by the tenant,
- tenant’s electric bill was not paid by the 12th day after the date the electric bill was issued;
- advance written notice of the proposed interruption was delivered to the tenant by mail or by hand that prominently displays the words “Electricity Termination Notice” or similar language underlined or in bold type.
What are the tenant’s remedies for the landlord’s unlawful interruption of utility services?
the tenant may recover:
- possession of the premises or terminate the lease;
- tenant’s actual damages;
- one month’s rent plus $1,000; and
- reasonable attorney fees and court costs.
Any delinquent rents or other sums for which the tenant is liable to the landlord will be deducted from the recovery.
When must the notice of electricity cutoff be delivered?
The notice must be delivered to the tenant no later than the fifth day before the interruption date
Are there days in which the landlord is strictly prohibited from interrupting electric service for nonpayment of an electric bill?
Yes. When it’s freezing outside (below 32 degrees) or a very hot summer day above 100 degrees.
How quickly must the landlord restore electric service after a delinquent bill is paid?
When is a landlord strictly prohibited from interrupting electric service?
- a delinquent payment that was for service furnished to a previous tenant;
- the tenant failed to pay bills other than electric bills, rent or other fees;
- the electric bills have been delinquent for six or more months or
- the tenant disputes the amount of the electric bill unless the landlord has conducted an investigation as required by the particular case and reported the results in writing to the tenant
How may a tenant get restoration of utility service when the landlord interrupts them unlawfully?
the tenant may file a sworn complaint with the Justice of the Peace specifying the alleged violation. If the justice reasonably believes the allegations are true, the justice may issue, ex parte writ of restoration of the utility services.