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Christopher B, Esq
Christopher B, Esq, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 2983
Experience:  Litigation Attorney
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We've recently sold our business and discovered that the

Customer Question

We've recently sold our business and discovered that the landlord has been splitting our electric and water bills evenly between our store and the adjacent (shared wall) tenant. A few years ago the master lease was bifurcated and each tenant has his own lease. At that time we paid 1/2 cost of installing a sub-meter tom onitor the electricity usage for each party. The property manager had the responsibility of reading the sub-meter each month and deducting the usage (other tenant's), from the main meter reading and billing each tenant only for their respective usage.
The property manager has admitted that they have failed to have this done on a consistent basis and have simply divided the total electric bill evenly between the two tenants, (whereas it is most likely that one or the other of us uses more electricity than the other).
My question is, since the property manager cannot reconstruct correct billings, are we entitled to be reimbursed for the amount we paid for the installation of the sub-meter, as well as for any and all electricity bills we've paid since it was installed?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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You could sue the property manager for breach of contract, but the problem here is that you are the one who would have to prove your damages in fixed terms.. So if you used more electricity one month and were undercharged, you have no damages that month. And vice versa.. But the burden is on you to prove what months you were "injured" and that when everything is netted out, you actually suffered a loss..

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This would be virtually impossible to prove simply because of the passage of time and likely no way to get the historic records on the sub meter's reading on a particular date...

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But I think you could sue them for half the cost of the sub meter because the actions of the property manager essentially made it useless..

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I didn't mention we're in California if it matters. Suppose the original sub-meter reading started at zero and we have a new reading now. Could I not look at the whole time span at once and compare it to my billings to determine if and by how much we may have been mis-charged?
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

You can make that argument, but doing the actual math might be difficult to break down on a month by month basis. But I suppose if you could come up with an aggregate amount that you have been injured over time, that could be your total damages.. As long as you were overcharged as opposed to undercharged....

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. I think my first step is to try to get original copies of all the bills for this period (if we don't already have them) and do some calculating to try to determine if we've been over or undercharged, than proceed. If I need more later, I'll contact again.Thank you.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 1 year ago.

Yes, I agree you have some number crunching ahead of you if you can get the copies of the bills and then reconcile them with what you were charged vs. what the meter reads..

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided as that is the only way I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

Expert:  Christopher B, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Error. Apologies.