Apartment Utilities

mike1975January 8, 2009

Hi everyone...I have a dilema. I live in a 3 family house owned by relatives. My rent is very cheap for the area...family rates...however my utilities are unbelievable every month. I live alone and my electric is always over $100 a month and my gas is usually the same. I was told by a relative who used to live here that my apartment may be hooked up to different things like their washer/dryer to my house and their garage and outside lights to my unit. I don't even park in the garage! I don't want to rock the boat as I cannot afford to move or have a rent increase, but these rates are killing me. How would you go about this issue?

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lucy

You need to talk (nicely) to whoever is in charge of things and find out in fact what your power is hooked up to, whether you're paying more than your fair share or not. It's perfectly valid to ask, after all, and people might not be aware of the situation (it could have been put in place years ago and forgotten about).

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 1:39PM
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mike1975

I'm 99% sure they know...they've owned the house for 35 years. I just asked my brother, who has done work for them, and he said that the gas from their dryer is hooked up to my unit! I have my own washer and dryer and they are on my unit also. Unfortunately I can see this going bad. They always mention raising the rent or selling over stupid things...like snow shoveling/lawn mowing. Their daughter(who lives downstairs) and I have mentioned taking over chores for rent reductions but they refuse and say that they need the rent. I understand that there is water, sewer, and property taxes that they pay...but the rent we pay covers more than the mortgage. I'm at a loss.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 2:14PM
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camlan

Not sure if you want to go this route with family, but there are usually laws or regulations about landlords and utilities, specifically that landlords cannot have tenants paying for things like lights or heat in common areas. So you could try looking up the regulations for where you live and citing them to your relatives.

Or I might figure out what is costing me the most--their dryer (you might be able to get someone from the gas company to come in and look at things and tell you exactly what you are paying for), for example, and just work on them to change that to their own gas supply.

What I'd do first in your place is add up your rent and utilities. Could you get as nice a place in as good a location for that total sum or less elsewhere? Then I'd move. But if you are still getting a good deal, even with the utilities added in, then I'd stay, and count the cost of the utilities as part of the rent.

Without knowing how old these relatives are or if they are retired or not, they may indeed need all of your rent, for the mortgage, taxes, etc. That doesn't mean that you should be paying to dry their clothes, however.

I can sympathize. I rent in a three family home that was at one time privately owned. Now it is owned by a real estate management company and I rent from them. We recently discovered that the third floor's dryer is on my electricity, the second floor's washer is on my hot water, and my dryer is on the second floor's electricity. The management company had three people down in the basement for a day sorting it all out.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2009 at 5:41PM
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mike1975

Thanks camlan...you're advice was spot on. I didn't want to consider moving until I get out of school(2 more years) so maybe I'll bite the bullet and wait until then. As far as ages, they are both under 60. Perhaps I'll just start cutting down my laundry time and use their machines along with mine!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2009 at 7:15AM
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desperaterenter

mike1975,

I was pretty certain that I was paying for part of the landlord's gas at one of my apartments; I once left for three weeks in the winter, turning off the gas, water, and electricity, and the bill for the one week I'd been there was almost $200 for gas alone. I called, but the gas representative just argued with me, asking how old the house was and whether I noticed a draft around the windows. The idiot couldn't grasp that if the gas is turned off, it doesn't matter if the windows are smack OPEN.

The thing is, it's usually not worth it to start anything, especially in your case, where your family is free to raise the rent at any time. If another apartment plus utilities would run higher, I'd say stick with the devil you know (anywhere else, and you might end up under Psycho Elephant Man and the Elephant Children like I have!) But I'd definitely start using their washer; may as well get some return, right? :o)

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 9:45PM
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lori59

are you all using the same utility meter?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 3:06PM
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