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I had a tenant that moved out of my property October 2016…

I had a tenant that...
I had a tenant that moved out of my property October 2016 light,has,water were paid by her. When she moved out she claim to have left the key in the mailbox according to my instructions well I would never tell any tenant to leave keys in the mailbox. My tenant on the end house called and told me that she had moved out she didn’t call me or leave a forwarding address. She just vanished. Well I had maintenance cut the lock off and replace it with a new lock. The maintenance man walked through the property made sure windows and the back door was secure, drained the water and left. Well when it was time for me to go in there and renovate the house and get it ready for rent again (which was around January 10th 2017) there were damages that the tenant left behind such as a broken thermostat, had to snake the clogged main drain, cracked toilet seat, two rooms of carpet and remove retile the kitchen floor.replace two smoke detectors, replace ceiling light, replace missing porch ballast, removed and replace locks, two window blinds. Her security deposit of $700 was used to help cover the expenses which were well over $2200 maybe a little more.
Well January 4, 2018 The Tenant took me to court and sued me for $2000 these are the three things that are written
1.Gas bill from 11-1-2016 thru 5-1-2017.
2. Electrical install of a 220 electrical line that she wanted and paid to have installed
3. Security deposit of $700.
The magistrate dropped the security deposit and the electrical install. He said that he could not figure out if I used the gas or not and that I may want to appeal that part of the decision. She brought a collection notice to Court so the Judge could not judge whether or not I owed her money for the bill. I did appeal the gas bill part of the decision and this is her notice to defend remark!. Harriet Wilson knowling left gas on in former tenant name. Never trying to pay bill, only to deny theft of service. Plaintiff claims damages in the amount of $2000.
As I stated earlier I went in there around January 10 2017 to turn over the unit no one noticed gas turned on we use a large heater for our cold month jobs and this house happens to be in the middle of two other houses (this was the year that broke a record for being the warmest winter since 1800). From the time she moved out I don’t know if anyone was in the house because I didn’t have the keys or notice from her that she moved out. Around November 15th I learned that she was gone and sent maintenance to there to change the locks. The new tenants’ lease started February 1, 2017 She is responsible for light, gas, water as well, I’m not sure when she moved into the house. Well her gas bill is in her name so the gas certainly was not on in Charlotte Vensons name from February thru May as she claims. I don’t know when then the tenant changed it to her name I believe she told me February 28, 2017.
So now I have to go back to Court May 3, 2018 to defend myself again
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Forgot to add that the gas company won’t give me documents because the bill is not in my name. But the gas company representive was nice enough to tell me that Charlotte turned the gas off in her name February 28, 2017 and the new tenant put gas in her name 3-1-2017. If her records are correct.
Answered in 3 days by:
3/13/2018
barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 42,598
Experience: Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I type out an answer or reply.

.

I have read all your comments, but I don't see an actual legal question?

.

Have you asked the court clerk for a subpoena to get the gas company records?

.

.

thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I guess I meant to ask how to proceed with this case and I didn’t ask the court for a subpoena didn’t know I could

Your best option is to defend based on the fact that it was the tenant's responsibility to turn off their own utilities, not yours. You weren't actively in and out of the apartment, so didn't realize that the tenant hadn't turned them off. But you can ask the court clerks for a subpoena to have served on the gas company for them to provide the gas records to show when it was transferred over to the new tenant.

.

Then it is up to the judge as to whether he believes your side that as a landlord you didn't realize that the tenant left the utilities on and that you never thought to check and transfer them so you could work on and do any repairs. That is going to be a hard argument to make if you had to transfer other utilities to your name like water or electric.

.

.

thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
The water comes to me monthy even if the tenant is paying the bill , so whenever they move its already in my name. The electric service atomaticly goes into my name whenever a tenant moves out and either turns the electric off or transfers it to their new place. So therefore I don't worry about whether a tenant turns the lights off or not

Ok, that makes the argument a lot easier to make to a judge if you have landlord tenant accounts set up for automatic transfers when a tenant vacates so there is no interruption of service. Then you have the additional defense that you assumed that the tenant had turned off utilities in their name and it was their negligence in not doing so that caused them to stay on.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Okay, so does that mean i dont have to supeona the gas company? Is it the responsibility of the new tenant to show when she turned on the gas? Or is this not her problem since she was not the one sued? You did not address the damages to the house do i sue for the balance of the money for damages or is this just about the gas bill?

Okay, so does that mean i dont have to supeona the gas company?

.

If the old tenant is trying to sue for time the new tenant had it in their name, you would want those records of when it was switched. But you should be able to just get the new tenant to request their history and then use that.

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Is it the responsibility of the new tenant to show when she turned on the gas? Or is this not her problem since she was not the one sued?

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She shouldn't care is she isn't being sued..

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You did not address the damages to the house do i sue for the balance of the money for damages or is this just about the gas bill?

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If you didn't file a counter suit against her for the damages when she sued you, then you have to file a separate lawsuit in small claims for any damages to the property.

barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 42,598
Experience: Attorney over 17 years, landlord 26 years
Verified
barristerinky and 87 other Landlord-Tenant Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
What if the new tenant doesn't want to get involved? Can i supeona her records because I'm the Landlord?

There really isn't any reason for the new tenant to refuse to just call the gas company and request a service history...

.

But if they wouldn't do that for you, you will have to get the subpoena issued to the gas company for those records.

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