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TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Represents tenants and landlords in residential and commercial lease disputes
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My girlfriend has been living in a apartment for 2 years, It

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My girlfriend has been living in a apartment for 2 years, It is a modular trailer on a basement with a smaller apartment in the basement. Her lease agreement is to pay $1500 per month and the gas is included but you pay the city for the electric and water. She has been doing this until we moved her out and I discovered that the downstairs is not metered and she has been paying utilities on both apartments. We talked with the renter downstairs and his utilities are included in his rent. We feel the landlord owes her some money for this and we wold like to know if the landlord can face criminal charges for this also.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  TexLaw replied 5 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question.

By deceiving your girlfriend and having her pay the utilities of the downstairs unit, the landlord has committed fraud. She could successfully sue the landlord for the fair price of the utilities that she used that year, which would mostly likely be half.

Technically, the landlord could also be charged with the following crimes under Wyoming law:

6-3-407.� Obtaining property by false pretenses; penalties.

(a)� A person who knowingly obtains property from another person by false pretenses with intent to defraud the person is guilty of:

(i)� A felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both, if the value of the property is one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more; or

(ii)� Repealed by Laws 1984, ch. 44, � 3.

(iii)� A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both, if the value of the property is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

6-3-408.� Theft of services; penalties.

(a)� A person who, with intent to defraud, obtains services which he knows are available only for compensation, without paying for the services is guilty of:

(i)� A felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both, if the value of the services is one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more; or

(ii)� Repealed by Laws 1984, ch. 44, � 3.

(iii)� A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both, if the value of the services is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

(b)� A person who tampers or otherwise interferes with or connects to, by any means, whether mechanical, electrical, acoustical or otherwise, any cables, wires or other devices used for distribution of services for the purposes of committing a violation of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of:

(i)� A felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both, if the value of the services is one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more; or

(ii)� A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both, if the value of the services is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

(c)� A person who knowingly manufactures, distributes, sells, or offers for sale, rental or use any decoding or descrambling device or any plan or kit for such device, designed with intent to facilitate an act which constitutes a violation of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of:

(i)� A felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00), or both, if the value of the services is one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more; or

(ii)� A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months, a fine of not more than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00), or both, if the value of the services is less than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00).

(d)� As used in this section "services" includes, but is not limited to, electric, telephone, cable television, gas, water or sewer services.



In my experience, you may have a hard time convincing the police to charge the landlord with a crime like this as they may simply say you have to sue him in civil court. There's no real justification for it other than a budget crunch.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

-ZDN
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