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landlord stealing electric, what are my rights

Discussion in 'Legal' started by chazzy, Oct 13, 2018.

  1. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    hi everyone,

    I'm looking for my advice i have a shop food which has been open a little over 7 months and i have just seen my landlord is stealing my electric for the flats he is doing up. upstairs which is a full on building site and the wire coming out my meter is a very big thick one so i know hes running alot of juice i have no idea how long this has been going on but it looks like its been done very dangerously and a real bodge it job ive sent videos and pictures to 3 electricians i know which say he is for sure stealing my electric.

    Now i have no idea how long this has been going on so first thing im going to do is insist he re emburses me for every electric bill ive ever had as i have no idea what hes used and what he hasnt.

    also the shop has never really got off the ground and to be honest its absolutely dying at the minute were open 12 hours a day 6 days a week and its not uncommon to take £60 a day sometimes as low as £30 (terrible i know) and to be honest i would like to be able to get out of my lease because were getting deeper and deeper in debt and a rogue landlord doesnt help by stealing out electric.

    could i get out of my lease and demand by deposit back or threaten with legal action? because of course breaking the law? or will i at best get my electric bill re embursed?

    thanks in advance
     
    Posted: Oct 13, 2018 By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #1
  2. Mark T Jones

    Mark T Jones UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    2,136 577
    You have every right to expect a contribution towards your electricity bill

    Beyond that, you really need to seek insolvency advice
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2018 By: Mark T Jones Member since: Nov 4, 2015
    #2
  3. Newchodge

    Newchodge UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    10,002 2,557
    I would be more worried about the potential fire risk
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2018 By: Newchodge Member since: Nov 8, 2012
    #3
  4. kulture

    kulture UKBF Legend Staff Member

    7,636 2,080
    It all depends what is in your lease. It is extremely unlikely that there will be a clause letting you terminate it in these circumstances. You need to talk to your solicitor. It is probable that there is a clause in the lease under landlord's obligations that says that you get quiet enjoyment of the property. If the landlord is coming in and connecting to the electricity and doing building work on the rest of the building then this is hardly quiet enjoyment.

    You need to decide what type of approach to start with. Either all out solicitor's letters etc. or a more conciliatory approach on the lines that his work is damaging your business and if he wants you as a successful tenant he should give you it rent free for the time he is doing all the work.
    Failing that then in is likely to be the insolvency route.
     
    Posted: Oct 14, 2018 By: kulture Member since: Aug 11, 2007
    #4
  5. Lisa Thomas

    Lisa Thomas UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    2,251 276
    I think this is two different issues - 1 - reimbursement for the electricity and 2- taking insolvency advice for the business. Will any reimbursement cover the debts? If not then it is not the electricity that is the route of the insolvency, although it may be escalating it.
     
    Posted: Oct 15, 2018 By: Lisa Thomas Member since: Apr 20, 2015
    #5
  6. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    9,639 1,939
    What sort of lease do you have or is it just a informal agreement, if its a proper lease does it have a break clause

    Are you a limited company

    Did you agree any personal guarantee when you signed the lease

    Do you have any assets like own your own home etc.
     
    Posted: Oct 15, 2018 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #6
  7. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    hi thanks for the replies,

    yes it does have a clause for quite enjoyment. but i took the lease with the knowledge of him starting building works. soon after signing for the lease,

    my solicitor has been incredibly unhelpful to be honest and she has pretty much just said you're over reacting and deal with it.

    so I feel like im on my own with this, and have since sent a letter to the landlord saying i have found out he has been stealing and i see it as a breach on contract and i want out.

    to which he replied he has a check meter upstairs which says how much hes been using but just forgot to tell me? i think forgetting for 9 months is incredibly far fetched and wont be letttng me out of my lease. but he will be paying me for the electricity he has used so thats not the problem anymore

    now like i said i am on my own with this i dont have money to go find another solicitor and seek much more legal advice,

    i am fuming with this and its just made me want out now no matter what. they are starting work right down the side of my shop from next week digging up the alleyway until xmas.

    to be honest ive always wanted to go travelling and im on the verge of just waiting until he can re enter the place 21 days past my next rent due date (25 december) and just closing the shop up getting on a plane and leaving for a long time.

    i am a gurantor on the the lease and i think he will probably try come after me, but how if im gone and then when i come back move to somewhere else? ive already moved from the original address i was at anyway.

    i feel like hes completely ruined the realtionship between us i have to just sit and accept it. which i will not due.

    its worth mentioning i have NO assests and will have even less when im gone and i sell all my stuff.

    does he have a way of finding out where i am in say 2 years times?
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 1:59 PM By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #7
  8. fisicx

    fisicx It's Major Clanger! Staff Member

    29,206 8,620
    Yes. There are loads of ways to find people anywhere in the world.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 2:45 PM By: fisicx Member since: Sep 12, 2006
    #8
  9. AnneLou

    AnneLou UKBF Regular Free Member

    267 68
    I'm sure many business owners would just like to up sticks and leg it! But, you took on a responsibility when you signed that lease and just because its not suiting you now, you can't just run from the problem. You would be behaving as badly as your landlord!

    Like Cyndy said, there are two issues - the lease which is not working out for you and the theft of electricity. As the electric thief is your landlord, perhaps you can use it to your advantage - because stealing electric in such a way is an actual offence and from what you say, you do have proof. You want to abandon your lease early because you have discovered you are trading at a loss - you can follow the procedures for insolvency and there are people on these forums who will try to assist you. Running off into the sunset is not really an option - it will come back and bite you in later years.
    I would start with tough conciliation talks with your landlord - in return for not reporting the theft and pursing a case for losses, you want to break the lease early as you are no longer confident in the relationship. It certainly gives you leverage. You will have to write off your losses but better than running from them for an eternity!
    Just out of interest, what has your electricity been costing you for the months of operation?
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 4:42 PM By: AnneLou Member since: Aug 3, 2011
    #9
  10. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    basically when we first got in there we got a high bill so i rang up e-on to which they said if u pay a lump sum off now and agree to pay £350 a month direct debit you will be debt free in ten months and since then theyve asked me to up it to £537 a month even tho i use the exact same appliances everyday so i shouldnt have any spikes or difference in month to month

    like i said i have sent him an email to which he said no to me leaving the lease early but agreed to pay the money he owes me
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 4:47 PM By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #10
  11. AnneLou

    AnneLou UKBF Regular Free Member

    267 68
    OK - sounds high to me for a business you describe as a "food shop". Are all your appliances electric or do you also use gas?
    Simple check - read your meter on a day when the landlord is not working upstairs. Assuming you are running most of your equipment and have lights on etc. Read it again exactly an hour later. Multiply that read by how many hours you are open in a day, then by days of the week you are operating. It will give you a fairly good idea of your Kwh (kilowatt per hour useage). You will then need to convert that Kwh to actual money by using the rate showing on your most recent bill. It should help you work out what your weekly electricity costs should be.

    When you set up your electricity account with eon, did you negotiate a rate or just accept what was given to you? It could be that you are on "out of contract rates" which is also very expensive!

    How much is the the landlord calculating he owes you? You may need to make sure you have a better understanding of your own electricity use before you challenge him with the evidence you have collected.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 5:41 PM By: AnneLou Member since: Aug 3, 2011
    #11
  12. Karimbo

    Karimbo UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,642 162
    let me guess, you didn't do any market research or have a business plan before you took out the lease?

    That is your main problem and not little bit of electricity being used by the LL.
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 5:53 PM By: Karimbo Member since: Nov 5, 2011
    #12
  13. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    thanks anne lou.

    i will give that a go. im on a rate for a year with them.

    the landlord is saying he owes me 1300 units worth. and for 9 months usage i think is an absolute joke. theres no way he has used 1300 units in 9 months while running a building site.

    and karimbo, youre part of the problem. why are people expecting me to be ok with being stolen from the past 9 months?

    he tried to get away with it a he got caught so now i hate the fact i am giving him my hard earned money when all he wants to do i rip me off. thats the main problem
     
    Posted: Oct 21, 2018 at 6:02 PM By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #13
  14. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

    9,639 1,939
    Have a look at the spongbob plan which is on a sticky on this forum

    As you have No assets of any value there is little point in him paying to bankrupt you as its just another expense on his part unless he is bloody minded

    Debts can be claimed a good few years after they were incurred so sorting things out now should be better than running away and the debt coming back to you 5 years down the line

    I would in your position first get a qualified electrician to inspect the tap off from your supply and write a letter stating what he found and have photo's taken. this will give you evidence of what he has done and you could use this against him whatever way you wanted to
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 10:16 AM By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
    #14
  15. Lisa Thomas

    Lisa Thomas UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    2,251 276
    Are you a trading as a Limited Company or a sole trader (or something else)?
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 10:40 AM By: Lisa Thomas Member since: Apr 20, 2015
    #15
  16. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    i am a limited company, but i am a guarantee on the lease. which to be honest doesnt bother me ive always had bad credit and doesnt bother me if the landlord was to somehow ruin my already bad credit because of this.

    ive just completely flipped a off switch on the place now from this and i just wanna get away
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 10:51 AM By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #16
  17. Karimbo

    Karimbo UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,642 162
    They're asking the status because this business isn't operating at a loss and its best to wind it down. But because you have a personal guarantee it's not going to be as simple as walking away because you're personally liable for the lease so landlord can still come after you if the Ltd company gets dissolved
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 11:35 AM By: Karimbo Member since: Nov 5, 2011
    #17
  18. Gecko001

    Gecko001 UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    2,720 424
    The electricity bill is very high. Do you have an idea of what you should use.

    I had a similar situation about 25 years ago. I made a rough estimate of what I used myself by doing a few sums based on wattage of appliances and amount of time I used them. However to get something official, I commissioned a consulting electrical engineer to estimate the amount I should be using and subtract it from what I was using and to put his findings in a report. I confronted the landlord with the report. He must have realised that I could have gone to the police and he wrote me a cheque on the spot. Citizen's Advice advised that I should go to the police, but I thought that might not result in me getting any money back. BTW although the report cost me something, it cot a fraction of what I got back from the landlord.

    I would not assume that builder's uses low electricity. They could have been running electric heaters and dehumidifiers 24 hours a day to dry plaster. Even a few electric heaters switched on 8 hours a day to provide heating while they work would run up a significant bill.
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 2:27 PM By: Gecko001 Member since: Apr 21, 2011
    #18
  19. chazzy

    chazzy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 0
    i know i dont believe for a second his unit count. and i have an electrician friend who said the meter he is using is very easy to alter to get free electric. i worked out from the units hes given me he apparently owes me £242 for using my electric for the past 9 months which is just not possible as my 1 bedroom flat im never in costs more than that over 9 months.

    like i said i dont have much help from a legal adviser and even people that seem to even care other than this forum.

    which is why i feel like just going off and telling him ive left the country (which i will do) and not tell him when i return and even if he comes after me you cant get blood out of a stone can you?
     
    Posted: Oct 22, 2018 at 2:35 PM By: chazzy Member since: Oct 13, 2018
    #19
  20. TODonnell

    TODonnell UKBF Ace Full Member

    1,405 213
    Just document everything in writing and with video and pics: timeline, meter readings, your side of events.

    Then just say to him, by phone only: Here are the facts, here's what I want (and it is fair), and I want it in writing within 14 days or I'm reporting this matter to the police.

    Despite what people may think, siphoning electricity is classed as theft and is a criminal matter, AFAIK.

    Note: I am not a lawyer.
     
    Posted: Oct 23, 2018 at 3:13 PM By: TODonnell Member since: Sep 23, 2011
    #20