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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I live in Dallas TX in an apartment community called The

Customer Question

I live in Dallas TX in an apartment community called The Gibson Company. We have complained about our electric bill now for 3 years. We love the place but this last week we found that the landlord has had the parking lot lights "tapped" into our electric breaker boxes (we have two - one light in one and two in the other). Since we found this out, our landlord has done nothing as of yet to remedy the situation. This morning I had a licensed electrician come out to confirm and document this issue.
Since last week I have also kept these lights turned off by keeping the breaker in our apt turned off. Not really convenient since it is wired into the kitchen (no power to our fridge or stove) circuit but we will be able to afford our electric bill. Because of smart-metering we can see directly that this issue has been costing us a lot of money.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am sorry to learn of this situation.

While you can sue the landlord for "Conversion" (the civil equivalent of theft) in small claims court (see: https://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Consumer_and_Tenant_Rights1&Template=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=24859), this is a very aggressive maneuver. As you say that you really like your unit, I assume that you would like to continue living there. Rather than taking the "sledgehammer" approach, you can try a more conservative approach first, and if that fails, you can always sue later.

Short of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.