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Utilities Law

Utilities laws are laws that focus on utilities that are to be paid by tenants when occupying a residence. The tenants are to pay the utilities monthly and abide by the rules the companies set out in order to keep services. The laws are established in order to keep things operating smoothly.

In the state of Michigan-if utilities are included in rent, and someone becomes past due on rent, can the land lord shut off the utilities?

In most circumstances, the termination of utilities or turning utilities off is considered and illegal eviction. Most cases if the tenant wanted to sue, they could do so legally.

For references, here are two links to the MI landlord tenant act.
http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(xzrt4rj4lbucawqkjb11lp45))/mileg.aspx?page=getobject&objectname=mcl-act-348-of-1972
http://www.michiganlegalaid.org/library_client/housing/eviction_illegal_eviction_and_utility_access/html_view

If a tenant shuts of utilities that are in the tenants name, including phone, gas, electrical, cable, and water, is it possible for a landlord to threaten to deduct rent the cost of deposits to get them back on in the landlords?

If the tenant is required to put these in the tenant's name; the tenant has the right to get them out of his name. So, just as the tenant notified the utilities upon taking residence to get the utilities in the tenant's name, so too is the tenant entitled to notify the utilities when to take them out of the tenant's name. If the landlord in the interim wants to notify the utilities to simply put them back in the landlord's name rather than shutting them off, that's up to the landlord, but the landlord cannot charge the tenant for failing to do so. If the landlord withholds any of the tenant's security deposit, then the tenant should file a claim against the landlord in small claims court.

What is the law for the disconnection of water utilities by an HOA when an owner is not paying fees and not complying with a payment plan if the tenant is disabled?

An HOA cannot turn off the water of the nonpaying owner without a court order. The Association may file a lien on the property and foreclose on the lien. If the association turns off the water without a court order, the directors may be liable for both civil and criminal penalties. It is considered to be a constructive eviction to disconnect utilities; it is against the law to constructively evict a residential occupant. This is a long process; if any of the properties are occupied by a tenant, the person may be able to obtain a court order directing the rent to be paid directly to the Association.

If utilities will be paid by tenant each month, and the tenant never put electricity in their name it’s still in the landlords name, can the landlord turn off the utilities?

No, a landlord is not permitted to turn off a tenant's electricity for non-payment. Alaska law would allow an owner to evict a tenant for non-payment of utilities to the electric company, and to sue him for any payments made on his behalf, but a owner can't just turn it off. If so, the tenant can sue for 1.5 times his actual damages. The tenant can also terminate the lease and demand a full refund of his security deposit. Alaska Stat., Title 34, Section 210.

What the owner can do is give the tenant a seven day notice to pay or quit. If the tenant pays the amounts owed, the owner is required to allow him to stay.

A listing said $530 for an apartment utilities included. I was told there was a 40 dollar a month utility usage fee. "It's to cover any unanticipated increases in utilities" the rep told me. The lease is full of signing away your rights including 80 lock out charges for them to let you into your apartment. Does this fall under the law against false advertising and/or bait and switch?

The primary issue is raised is charging a $40 per month utility usage fee when the advertisement is for utilities included; this may be false advertising. This would be true unless the advertisement included a disclaimer that somehow revealed that additional costs could be applicable. Unfortunately, given the relatively small population of potential claimants and the amount of money at issue, a class action would be unlikely. This is something that should be reported to the PA Attorney General for unfair/deceptive trade practices. Here is a link:
http://www.attorneygeneral.gov/complaintforms/bcp_form.aspx

Having the right information about the utility laws can help individuals deal with difficult situations and make the right decisions. Ask Experts about the utility laws and other related topics.

Ask a Real Estate Lawyer

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Tina, Lawyer
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