Wedding Etiquette Forum

I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.

So the layout of my apartment is kind of weird. It has like a half basement which you access down some stairs in the back, which is divided into storage and laundry room.  Well, the laundry room is on our side of the house (it's a 1 story duplex). When we first moved in I was surprised how large our gas bill was - nothing insane, just 50-100% higher than any gas bill I had ever had before. Since the laundry room is right under us and there is no separate meter, Oliver and I think that we inadvertantly pay for the laundry room utilities (gas and electric, landlord pays for all the water).

Well, my neighbor's electricity was shut off on Tuesday. (The meters are outside and we pass them on the way to the parking area.) He lost his key to the laundry room long ago (long story short, we keep it locked to keep non-authorized people out, although this neighbor still trashes it), so his GF asked Oliver to let her into the laundry room. They're now running several extension cords from the laundry room up through a window of their apartment.

Last night I was on my computer and I saw what I've always assumed is his internet router on, giving a signal. So aside from powering a light or two, I think it's powering his internet/computer (why you would decide paying for electricity is not necessary but internet is, I don't know).

I'm assuming here he won't be fixing this situation soon, since 1) they give you plenty of notice before they shut off your electricity and 2) he's developed a plan to deal with it.

WWED? Clarify with the landlord if the laundry room is hooked up to our meter? Notify the landlord of the fire hazard that is several extension cords going out a window? (Though if I feared the house burning down anytime this neighbor did something dumb, I'd live in a constant state of fear.) Wait until we get our utility bill and then confront him about it if our bill is high? FWIW, there have been 2 other occassions where we've had abnormally high electric bills, and now I'm thinking something like this might be behind it.
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Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I wouldn't wait.

    Contact the landlord about your concerns.  






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Definitely call your landlord about it.

    Can you also notify your utilities company about the possibility of stolen utilities?  They should be able to track where the electricity, etc. is going. 

    That's BS, Mery.
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  • Like baystate said, I would call both my landlord and the utility company or companies ASAP.

    On the off chance you're not paying for these utilities (which I think you probably are) your landlord certainly is, and I doubt he'd be a fan.

    Lizzie
  • I'd talk to the landlord about it. Tell him about the extension cords and ask about the laundry room utilities.

    I live in the basement of a house that's been turned into apartments and the furnace and hot water heater are located inside of my apartment. The furnace is gas, which we don't pay for, but I suspect we might pay for the water heater. We took cold showers all winter and I asked my property manager a thousand times if the water heater was powered by gas or electricity and he couldn't comprehend my question. But I am still pissed at the possibility that I was paying for everyone but me to have hot showers.
  • Agree with PP, you should call the landlord ASAP.  That's really dangerous and really unfair if you are paying for it!! 
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  • I would deal with this ASAP before your bill becomes more of a nightmare.

    I would also speak to the landlord about who is acutally paying for the utilities for the laundry room. If it's a common-use room you should be paying for it (or should be solely paying for it depending on your lease).
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_think-neighbor-stealing-utilities?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:4e43e57d-3da6-4dfa-b334-ad2b14d4059cPost:58cb2325-fafd-40d5-9f5c-df257e0bd615">Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.</a>:
    [QUOTE]Definitely call your landlord about it. Can you also notify your utilities company about the possibility of stolen utilities?  They should be able to track where the electricity, etc. is going.  That's BS, Mery.
    Posted by baystateapple[/QUOTE]

    I called the gas company like 3 years ago after our first bill and asked if they could do an audit or something or compare the bill to the unit next to us and they were wildly unhelpful. They said, "well, his energy use might be different." Yeah, but if my bill is 4 times what his bill is, that tells me something, trust me. I'll try calling again and I'll have Oliver email our landlord to see what he knows about it.
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  • Ditto everyone else. Your neighbours sound ridiculous.  WOW!  Extension chords?  Call your landlord and your utility company ASAP.
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  • Definitely call the landlord and utility companies.

    That's just BS.
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  • Oh, and the laundry room is shared by 4 units (there is a house with their own washer/dryer and an attached studio apartment, which used the laundry room, as well as a bungalow on our property). So it's not really insignificant. Gas dryer, obviously. Although we have our own water heaters... but who knows if I pay for both of them.
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  • Talk to the landlord now.

    Quick fix: They are running extension cords from the laundry room. They do not have a key to the laundry room. Unplug the cords, remove them from the laundry room, and lock the door. If they ask to be let in, follow them downstairs and if they do try to plug the cords back in, tell them no.
  • I agree with PP, you should be on the phone with your landlord and utility company ASAP.  Don't wait for your bill.  I used to work billing for an electric company and people would call us all the time after they got a huge bill saying "I didn't use this much, my neighbor is taping into my electric" and all we oculd tell them was that it was their responsability to monitor their own utilities and report it if something is strange.  Your landlord definitely needs to know, however, because in most states, a tenant is required to maintain electric and water to an apartment while it is in their name.  I'd call the landlord and say that you're concerned about the extension cords, and also verify what portions of the apartment you're paying for when it comes to your utilities.  If you're paying for the laundry room, that should have been disclosed to you when you signed your lease.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_think-neighbor-stealing-utilities?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:4e43e57d-3da6-4dfa-b334-ad2b14d4059cPost:a4794233-aee1-47ff-b0d6-63f06ef61e72">Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.</a>:
    [QUOTE]Talk to the landlord now. <strong>Quick fix: They are running extension cords from the laundry room. They do not have a key to the laundry room. Unplug the cords, remove them from the laundry room, and lock the door. If they ask to be let in, follow them downstairs and if they do try to plug the cords back in, tell them no.
    </strong>Posted by Robin+Cooper[/QUOTE]

    Oh, and also do this.
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_think-neighbor-stealing-utilities?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:4e43e57d-3da6-4dfa-b334-ad2b14d4059cPost:26decad8-78ce-407c-b9d4-0eb35792cc1f">Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.</a>:
    [QUOTE]Ditto everyone else. Your neighbours sound ridiculous.  WOW!  Extension chords?  Call your landlord and your utility company ASAP.
    Posted by Habs2Hart[/QUOTE]

    There are so many reasons they're ridiculous. They left wet laundry in the laundry room for like 2-3 weeks last month. It was gross. And I think their friends used to go down there and shoot up, no joke.

    He has a puppy too, so I feel bad. And apparently a new cat, whom we've recently seen in the window.

    Nice guy, but he works on and off in the music industry. I guess he's been "off" lately. And as for the girl/girlfriend, if you can't do your laundry in, like a day or two, I have no idea how you can be gainfully employed.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Even if it's not your electric they are stealing, they are in fact stealing someone's and that needs to be reported.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_think-neighbor-stealing-utilities?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:4e43e57d-3da6-4dfa-b334-ad2b14d4059cPost:462fc126-8317-4cb8-ad3d-7dcf6088d21b">Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.</a>:
    [QUOTE]Even if it's not your electric they are stealing, they are in fact stealing someone's and that needs to be reported.
    Posted by lyndausvi[/QUOTE]

    Good point. H is contacting the landlord under the guise of concern for whose utilities these actually are.
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  • Unplug the extension cords and watch for neighbor's reaction.

    And yes, obviously, call the landlord.
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  • I'd definitely be unplugging those extension cords and then check to see if his router turns off from your computer....
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  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_think-neighbor-stealing-utilities?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:4e43e57d-3da6-4dfa-b334-ad2b14d4059cPost:a4794233-aee1-47ff-b0d6-63f06ef61e72">Re: I think my neighbor is stealing my utilities.</a>:
    [QUOTE]Talk to the landlord now. Quick fix: They are running extension cords from the laundry room. They do not have a key to the laundry room. Unplug the cords, remove them from the laundry room, and lock the door. If they ask to be let in, follow them downstairs and if they do try to plug the cords back in, tell them no.
    Posted by Robin+Cooper[/QUOTE]

    THIS.

    If they ask tell them that you pay for the electricity on your side of the building and they can't borrow any. Period.

    Also take pictures.
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  • I'm with the "unplug them and shove them out the window" camp.

    Also, if the window is wide open, they are either opening up your area to cold or hot by allowing external factors in or they are allowing bugs and moisture in.  Not cool.  Unplug now.
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  • In addition to what PPs said about what you're neighbor is doing not be ok, I would not be ok with inadvertently paying for 3 other units to do unlimited laundry.  I think gas dryers are more efficient than electric, but it's still a nontrivial expense.  I would wait until after the neighbor issue is sorted out and then ask the landlord who pays for gas and electric for various common areas, including the laundry (and ask to see proof if necessary), and renegotiate your rent if you're paying. 

  • When I lived in a converted house in grad school - my best friend and I found out the hard way that we were in fact paying for the furnace to heat the entire house all winter.  Our bill was always double what the others were and the landlord refused to do anything about it.  He said that the previous tenants hadn't minded so he didn't bother telling us.

    Call the landlord but also the utilities company in case the landlord won't do anything about it!  Oh and I'm a HUGE fan of pictoral evidence...in fact the fire marshal might want a copy also.  They have the ability to shut down that kind of behaviour really quickly!
  • I had something like this happen to me in a house i lived in.
    The neighbor, which was not attached to my house in any way aside from a shared ally. I never really went into the ally. After our first month of living there, the bills were severely high, i just thought it was because we had so much more space than the other apartment, so i let it slide. A few months later i locked myself out and had a key hidden in the backyard, and in order to get to the backyard, you have to make your way through the ally. Well i noticed that my neighbor had numerous extension cords, cables, etc running along the side of his house as well as it looked as if he cemented over the cords along the ally to avoid being seen. I followed a few of them, come to find out the other end of the cords were going into my basement!
    I immediately walked into the basement, found that his cable was hooked to mine and somehow his electric was hooked into mine, i pulled everything, included a number of my cords. I sat, and waited and waited. About 2 hours after sitting in the dark he came knocking on my door asking if our power was out, hmmm, sure is, how about yours? Oh yea yea, can you call the electric company, my phones are dead? So I called the landlord, apparently, she told him it was ok to tap into our house and pull electric and cable, and that she figured he wouldn't be using enough to notice and that we were nice people and wouldn't mind. Uhhh, do i mind, YES I MIND! We actually ended up moving out a short time later, this women was crazy and so was her neighbor.

    But anyways. Call the landlord, utilities, etc.
    If the landlord is aware that you are paying for the wash units in the basement, and it is not stated in the lease that you are paying for those, you can legally ask for the money back, not pay rent, or move.

    Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect and I don't live to be. But, before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean. -Bob Marley

  • Don't wait. Definitely confront your neighbor or just go straight to the landlord. 
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  • I haven't read all of the responses but I would contact the landlord now!  My dad is a property manager and had a rental burn down on NYE because the tenants didn't tell him the bedroom electricity wasn't working so they were running extension cords from the garage into the house.  Needless to say it ended up burning to the ground and the tenants have to pay the insurance company back because they don't have renters' insurance and they didn't notify my dad of the problem so he wasn't responsible to fix something he didn't know about.

    It sucks that you're probably paying for their electricty but there's a greater issue too.
  • Ditto PPs.  I love the unplug, lock up, and wait.  Also, take LOTS of pictures so the neighbors cannot deny it. 

    jrkjpf:  That was one seriously messed up situation you were in.  Glad to hear you moved out - that could have caused a major fire. 
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