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Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #1 

     I was wondering of anyone has ever heard of a tenant being able to sue over act 54.  In July our tenant (who just left a month short of the end of the lease without paying the last month rent) opened up an investigation with with the local electric company claiming his bill was higher than normal.  When PPL investigated they found that the furnace, a pump and the water heater were being metered to the tenant's bill.   We were unaware of this situation and moved to correct it as soon as possible.  We were required to settle on a back balance that was unpaid for this tenant and then paid two of his bills, before it was re-metered for a house meter to cover these items.  Although this house has been in my name for about ten years,  my mother had been paying the taxes and collecting the rent up until 2007. The original lease was with her.  This tenant is fully aware of this. Our first lease with him was dated Dec 2007.  In a letter sent by his lawyer, he threatened to take us to small claims court (District Magistrate) if we did not cut him a check for approximately $3500.00.  We had an appointment with our lawyer and he had never heard of this situation or if it was something a tenant could sue over and win.   With our lawyer we drafted a letter back to his lawyer with my figures in case we have to defend this in court.  My figures start from 2007, not 2004, and show that he would only be able to sue for around $119.00.  I don't know if he will actually file or not - Has anyone heard of this??? Any advice or info would be greatly appreciated. We are in PA 


Posts: 3,817
Reply with quote  #2 
The PA statute of limitations on contracts is 4 years.  If the house was in your name for that period, you (as the owner) are ultimately responsible for any contract during that time.  My guess is that it would be considered that your mother acted as your agent to sign the lease.  How much you would actually owe the tenant for unknowingly using his electric for those four years is a matter for negotiation. 

Was the furnace electric, or gas with an electric blower?  The blower would run only intermittently for the cold months, an electric furnace would use much greater amounts of electric.  And the water heater usage would depend partly on the tenants' demands for hot water (running more and using more electric when they need more hot water, less when it is only maintaining the tank).

What type of pump was it?  If this was a sump pump for a basement, it may have only operated in heavy rains and only for a few hours.    Attempting to go back 4 years and reconstruct hoiw cold the winters were, how much hot water they needed, or how rainy the seasons were would be a daunting task.

I would just wait and see if he actually sues or not and then have your attorney ask his for a detailed accounting at how he arrived at that figure.

Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #3 
     Thanks, I appreciate the info.  The furnace is an oil furnace, as is the water heater.  The pump is a pump to the septic system.  This person would like nothing more than to sue and win in court.  We used to work at the same company and he was fired for theft. I don't put it past him to start a court proceeding, although I doubt he has the money.  He has no credit. I know that for a fact.  
     My calculation should be more accurate because I took an average of the two house meter readings we have actually been billed for since the re-metering.  He figured his calculation on the difference between what he paid before and after the meter was put in.  Mine definately come out lower than his figure.  Plus as I said, we calculated on 20 months from the date of our first lease with him.  We also sent a copy of the letter that accompianied the lease estabishing that we had bought the house from my mother, so unless he looks into it further, he wouldn't know that I owned it.  I know this is something that could be looked into by his lawyer.   Since he opened this investigation in July he paid his rent on the last day of every month.  I know in hindsight we should have started an eviction immediately, but we instead waited till his lease was up and then were just going to not renew.  He has left a month early, and the house is in good condition.  He is considering his security deposit- (paid to my mother)- as his last month's rent - I know how his mind works.
     I just wonderd if he actually had a case.  This was not something that we willfully did to cheat him. The rep from PPL said he never heard of anyone sueing over this.      Thanks, Lou

Posts: 4
Reply with quote  #4 
The same thing is happening to me! Going to court on April 15! I paid for all the oil and the agreement was they pay the electric, since the furnace is on their side. Now they want 105 dollars a month for 33 months! And I've called PP&L every other day since I got the summons and they won't call me back, actually they do, but it's just a recording saying all the operators are busy. But they called me?! Comical, if it wasn't so serious. I'll let you guys know how I make out at the Magistrate. Wish I had found this site sooner. Any advice is needed and welcome. I'm so anxious. Thanks in advance.
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