Is it legal for a landlord to have your power disconnected? 16 Answers as of July 02, 2013

Is it legal for a landlord to get mad at a tenant and have their power disconnected and always has been, but tenant is responsible for paying the bill, and the bill is paid in full and up to date with a zero balance?

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The Jordan Law Firm
The Jordan Law Firm | John Paul Jordan
I believe Oklahoma Title 41 Section 121 speaks about to the fact a Landlord cannot willfully or negligently supply electric. The statute itself reads: C. Except as otherwise provided in this act, if, contrary to the rental agreement or Section 18 of this act, the landlord willfully or negligently fails to supply heat, running water, hot water, electric, gas or other essential service, the tenant may give written notice to the landlord specifying the breach and thereafter may: 1. Upon written notice, immediately terminate the rental agreement; or 2. Procure reasonable amounts of heat, hot water, running water, electric, gas or other essential service during the period of the landlord's noncompliance and deduct their actual and reasonable cost from the rent; or 3. Recover damages based upon the diminution of the fair rental value of the dwelling unit; or 4. Upon written notice, procure reasonable substitute housing during the period of the landlord's noncompliance, in which case the tenant is excused from paying rent for the period of the landlord's noncompliance.
Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
Replied: 4/4/2012
Law Office of Jared Altman
Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
No. You don't have to pay rent for that period and can sue for any damages.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/4/2012
Siskind Legal Services
Siskind Legal Services | Jeffrey M. Siskind
Yes.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/30/2013
Palumbo and Kosofsky
Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
No it is illegal
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/3/2012
Law Office of Gregory Crain | Gregory Crain
No.
Answer Applies to: Arkansas
Replied: 5/30/2013
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    If the power bill is in the landlord's name, he can have service disconnected UNLESS it would be injurious to the health of the tenant(s). You don't say why the landlord is mad with you. If it is over rent, he could get a dispossessory writ and have you evicted. I am guessing it is over something else. If it's not over rent, him turning off the power might render the property uninhabitable in the eyes of the law.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy
    The Law Offices of Robert W. Bellamy | Robert W. Bellamy
    It is not legal to interfere with the tenants lawful occupation of the dwelling. Tenant can sue for and recover damages based upon the diminution in the fair rental value of the dwelling unit.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    J. R. Matthews LLC | J. R. Matthews
    No, it isn't.
    Answer Applies to: Oklahoma
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Law Offices of Frances Headley | Frances Headley
    It is not legal for a landlord to have any utilities disconnected with the intent of terminating the tenancy. The Civil Code provides that a tenant may bring a civil action for damages which includes penalties and attorney's fees. You should consult a real estate attorney familiar with landlord tenant matters to assist you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    Lisa L. Hogreve, LC | Lisa L. Hogreve
    No, it is not legal for a landlord to have a tenant's power disconnected. It sounds like the landlord is acting in a retaliatory fashion, or is trying to use what is called "self-help" to get you to leave, both of which are prohibited pursuant to Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. Consult an attorney. If you prevail in your action, the statute provides that the landlord will pay your reasonable attorney's fees and costs.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    That is called a "constructive eviction" as it makes the rental uninhabitable. Such self-help actions are normally frowned upon by the law, however there are other issues. Do you have a lease or rental agreement, are you current on that as well as the power bill? There is not enough information to give any firm advise or opinion. You will have to provide a full exposition of the facts and should see an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC
    Varadi, Hair & Checki, LLC | Galen M. Hair
    The short answer is yes and no. Assuming the electricity is in the landlord's name, the landlord may have a general right to have the electricity disconnected. But, if your lease states that the landlord will keep the electricity in his name, and you have paid the electricity, then you may have a cause of action for either damages or constructive eviction. Even if your lease does not state this, you still may have an action. Generally speaking, your landlord has a duty to insure your rental property is livable. This would include such "essentials". When the landlord does not meet that responsibility, the law may treat this as though the landlord has evicted the tenant. Whether that eviction is fair or not depends on the specifics of the situation. Also, note that this answer assumes the landlord called the electricity company and disconnected your power; if your landlord actually cut your power lines, flipped your breaker, or removed fuses, you might have a much stronger argument.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    The Jackson Law Firm
    The Jackson Law Firm | Shawn Jackson
    Are you a commercial or a residential tenant? Who is the subscriber of the energy service?
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    This type of self-help by the landlord is expressly forbidden by most states' housing statutes. You should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney about the potential grounds for suit you have against the landlord. Depending on the laws of your state, you may also be able to file a criminal complaint.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 4/3/2012
    Sultan Law Office | Gregory Sultan
    No, not in Illinois.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 5/30/2013
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