A recent court battle in San Gabriel, California has brought to life an interesting question about utility bill responsibility. In this court case, the property owning family filed a suit against Southern California Edison for cutting off the power to their primary residence after the tenants didn’t pay their utility bill. In this, rather unusual case, the tenants bypassed their Edison meter in an effort to keep a pot growing business under the radar. The drugs, alone, sound like a bad deal for a landlord, but when the tenant was arrested, Edison submitted a $138,577 bill to the property owners!
The deal has since been settled out of court, but the question remains to landlords, “how do you protect your property from tenants who don’t pay their utility bills in California?”
To keep it simple, “Put it in writing!” The basic advice from the State of California’s website is to write the responsibility into your lease agreements. Remember, verbal agreements are hard to prove, so explicitly state responsibilities like these in your contracts.