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Can Landlords Charge Tenants or Renters for Electricity?

How a Landlord Can Be Compliant When Charging For Electricity and How to Monitor the Usage of Electrical Consumption: I have noticed a drastic increase in my electric bill, I believe the landlord has connected the electrical hot water heater to my electric meter even though its included…

Landlords Who Can Charging For Electricity
Electrical Question: I’m a student renter in a apt, in which heat and hot water is included in the rent. Only the stove and electrical outlets run off the electric. I have noticed a drastic increase in my electric bill. For example Jan-Feb bill was $96.00. I believe the landlord has connected the electrical hot water heater to my electric meter even though its included. The electric hot water heater is in my unit in the kitchen and the electric panel box is in my living room closet. Is their a way to look at these items and determine if this is happening?

Any insight would be helpful.

Background: Janine, a Student from Springfield, Pennsylvania.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your home electrical question Janine.

How a Landlord Can Be Compliant When Charging For Electricity

I would be curious to know how the landlord is able to separate the electrical usage between the included heating and the hot water, compared to the usage of the electric stove and outlets. If this is stated in your rental contract then proof of determining the charges, or method of  metering and billings should be available for inspection. Unfortunately such arrangements can produce unjustifiable and possibly unlawful charges. As a renter you have every right to challenge the billings and request proof that supports the increase in charges. Most state laws prohibit anyone from acting as a utility company thereby profiting from the resale of utilities of any kind, unless they are a licensed and approved private utility company. The sale of provided utilities must be sold at the same rate that is currently being charged by the local utility company. Your state may provide further assistance with issues on utility charges and renters, tenants and landlords rights, and I would encourage you to contact the authority  for such regulations in your area.  It may interest the landlord to know that private electronic monitoring devices for electrical consumption may be installed on each electrical panel that serves each rental unit. Devices such as the TED Electricity Monitor include accurate consumption data to justify tenant and renter billings.  These electronic power recording monitors provide a detailed report that can then be used for accurate tenant billings.

How to Monitor the Usage of  Electrical Consumption

Janie you have also asked if there is a way to monitor the usage of the electrical consumption of the water heater or other appliances, and the answer is yes. There are a wide range of monitoring devices that are available. Many are very affordable and easy to use, and there are more advanced monitoring devices which record the actual electrical usage for each device.

Here is a partial list of Energy Monitors which may be helpful:

Please consult the details of each device for installation and operation.

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