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Richard, Attorney
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Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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I own a business in a plaza. My landlord bills the electric

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I own a business in a plaza. My landlord bills the electric usage according to square footage. I am being charged over $300 per month for electric with other units in the plaza being charged only $25 with nearly the same square footage as my unit. Also, my landlord told me that I have my own meters, but I feel that other tenants must be tied into my meters to warrant the extremely high electric bill. I feel that I am being price gouged and my landlord refuses to explain how he comes up with those figures. What can I do to make sure that I am not being taken advantage of as a female business owner?
Welcome! My goal is to do my very best to understand your situation and to provide a full and complete answer for you.

Good afternoon. It is very likely you are paying more than your proportionate share. You can do a couple of things to remedy this since the landlord is not willing to address this voluntarily. One, call an electrician to analyze the wiring to insure that your meter is only measuring your usage and no other tenant's usage. Two, file a suit against your landlord to compel an audit of the electrical usage and to award you damages for any overpayments made by you in the past and to remediate the situation going forward. Also, ask the court to rule that the landlord's actions were intentional and fraudulent and ask the court to award you punitive damages as well. Once the suit is filed and a judgment awarded, you become a judgment creditor, and if the losing party doesn’t then pay the judgment, you can have the sheriff serve a summons on the losing party for a debtor examination. That forces the losing party to meet the judgment creditor in court and answer questions under oath about the losing party's assets. After that information is obtained, the judgment creditor has the power to garnish wages, attach bank accounts, have the sheriff seize other personal property, and/or place liens on any non-homestead property to satisfy the judgment.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have been told by an electrician that there are others using my meter's besides me. At the moment I don't want to pursue legal action because I didn't renew my lease with my landlord and I don't want to be thrown out without a new location. Is there anything that I could do to ask them to lower the bill? Do I have to be charged according to square footage or can I be charged according to usage? there are other tenants in this plaza that use WAY more electricity then me for example, a large tanning salon, a very busy hair salon, and an electronics repair store and their electric bills are minuscule next to mine.

Thanks for your reply. You can demand to be charged on usage rather than square footage. Being that you are no longer within your lease, you do risk the landlord simply deciding to terminate your tenancy. But, you can still later file a suit against him for your over-payments. You're are definitely getting screwed here and I would suggest that you get this addressed sooner rather than later...especially given that you are paying pursuant to a meter that is counting your usage plus others. And, once you make this complaint, there are prohibitions against your landlord terminating your tenancy in retaliation.
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