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Man raises concerns after suspecting friend's landlord of stealing electricity from her: 'Actually sounds like felony level theft and fraud'

"It's not unheard of for landlords to defraud tenants on utility fees."

Photo Credit: iStock

A Reddit post that reads like a mystery novel sparked a wonderful conversation about how to suss out a potentially unscrupulous landlord and rein in an out-of-control electric bill.

Titled "Landlord stealing power from tenant?" in the r/AskElectricians subreddit, the post garnered more than a thousand votes and comments. Be prepared, though: There was no resolution to the situation or conclusive update, but a recent comment suggests that this saga is not over.

Last year, the poster detailed the problem: Their employee moved into a new rental unit on a farm and was hit with a $600-plus bill for 1,600 kilowatt-hours of electricity. The renter said something to their landlord, and the next month's bill was $108. The bill for the third month, however, was over $400.

The tenant had a fridge, an oven, a window air conditioning unit, and a television, so there was no reason they should've been drawing double the usual power of an American residence. The poster-turned-investigator helped their employee do some digging, and they found out the barn on the property may have been stealing electricity from the renter's meter.

They called an electrician to try to figure things out, but the story petered out from there.

​​"Actually sounds like felony level theft and fraud," one Redditor commented.

Another user shared a similar experience and said: "It's not unheard of for landlords to defraud tenants on utility fees. Depending on the state, tenants rights may not enable the tenant to break the lease in such a situation. The tenant may be SOL and just need to look for a better lease elsewhere at the end of their current agreement."

The topic at hand also leads down a number of related avenues. First, if you're at the mercy of high electric bills, you may be able to change your energy provider. Eighteen states have fully or partially "deregulated" energy markets, from which you can choose the right company and plan to supply your power.

You can also choose renewable energy over that powered by the burning of coal, oil, or gas, which is costlier and fuels human health problems as well as the overheating of our planet. Sources such as solar and wind are more affordable than ever, and they're available to everyone.

Whether you rent or own, if you have no say in the source of your electricity, you can sign up for community solar. This is probably the best option for renters, but mileage varies. Check out this article on how the innovative option compares to solar panels, and then pick up your phone to start saving.

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