Lin - posted on 06/22/2010 ( 9 moms have responded )
We live in Ohio, in the upper floor of a house where all the electrical breakers for the things in the basement are in the basement (a common area for laundry, we have provided our own washer and dryer). All the outlets and circuit breaker boxes are clearly labeled to designate which unit is tied to which outlet/box. There are only 2 categories, one for our unit and the other for the other unit (the landlord does not have a separate box).
Recently, the landlord's "business partner" and supposed electrical expert, moved into the lower half of the house. I was given the impression that he does work for the landlord fixing up other houses to rent in exchange for rent and a bit of cash. Everything was okay until his ex-girlfriend shut off the power (it was in her name). We noticed that he was using our washer/dryer, as our clothes would be taken out of our washer/dryer and someone else's clothes were in, and they matched the size of this guy. We also noticed that the same lights that were not working when the lower unit was empty had stopped working, so we checked to confirm that his power was off, and that there was an extension cord coming from his apartment, down to the basement, and plugged into an outlet that, when you trace the line, goes back into our circuit breaker box; clearly he was using our power. We would keep unplugging it, he would plug it back in. We would shut off the breakers for our half, and he would turn them right back on, having to open the door labeled "second floor"; he would even unscrew the lightbulb that would automatically turn on (any switch to turn it on/off is nonexistent) when he would turn on the breaker that powers the outlet he'd plug in his extension cord. We could hear the TV blaring, the radio going, etc., and when we would talk to him about it, he would say he's only powering his refrigerator and that he would give us money by a certain time (the money and the time limit growing each time) for what he has used (not a single one of these promises has he followed through), and he claimed every time he didn't know that the functioning outlets were ours, one time almost to the point saying that our landlord told him to plug his cord into one of our outlets. We have told him in writing and in person several times he needs to get his own account with Duke Energy and that he may not use our power in the meantime. He seems to have a very good grasp of the English language and so do we. We have talked to our landlord on several occasions and we were told that the lower unit was going to be reconnected to power a week ago, just as he was returning from a 3-4 week absence from the apartment. My husband, as he was taking a load of laundry downstairs tonight, he saw the extension cord that was laying unplugged for the 3-4 weeks the guy was gone is plugged into one of our outlets, and he then confirmed that the power for the other unit isn't on. And our landlord isn't answering his phone, and his voicemail box is full.
I just feel really frustrated and angry about this situation. He's clearly not caring about what we say, and he knows darn well that's he's taking from us. I feel he's stealing. Apparently nothing the landlord is doing is working (or he isn't doing anything), we are not in the financial situation to move (there's not a place I would consider moving to that would approve us with our credit history at this point), but we can't and we shouldn't have to guard our electrical outlets and such like this. He certainly has the money - he fills his recycling bin (and most times part of ours) with cans and cans of beer, and he just bought a car (not sure how legal that is, due to him still being on probation due to a bunch of DUI's and driving without a license - we checked on the county's public record after a visit from his parole officer when he first moved in, whose name I do not know).
Has anyone had to go through a situation like this? Does anyone know how to handle the situation or know about the relevant laws or procedure in Ohio?