Can a landlord turn off electricity if rent wasn't paid?

My best friend has been going through a tough time after losing her job and hasn't been able to pay rent, she lost her car and everything, I know the right thing for her is to leave her apartment but she has no where to go and she's a single mom. I believe she's about 2-3 months behind on rent. Don't ask why she hasn't been evicted cause I don't know why either lol, they serve her with 3 day notices but nothing after that... And one time they served her with a Unlawful Detainer but it was about a week after I went in and paid some rent for her, just a few hundred bucks, they never gave her another 3day notice, just the UD, which is where they messed up, plus the UD had tons of mistakes on it so I'm assuming they tried to be cheap and made something up to scare her... She responded to it, and she never heard back since.
So here's the million dollar question: Can her landlord turn off her electricity because she hasn't paid rent? Because he's been doing it twice a day (she figured out how to turn it back on) for about 4 days now. If he can't do this then what should she do about it? Should she just suck it up and deal with it so she doesn't open a can of worms since her rent hasn't been paid? She's been trying to stay low key while she catches up on rent..
She pays her utilities separately, it is not part of her rent.

3 years ago - 7 answers

Best Answer

Chosen by Asker

I read different state laws and they state this:

"The court-administered eviction process assures the tenant of the right to a court hearing if the tenant believes that the landlord has no right to evict the tenant. The landlord must use this court process to evict the tenant; the landlord cannot use self-help measures to force the tenant to move. For example, the landlord cannot physically remove or lock out the tenant, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, remove outside windows or doors, or seize (take) the tenant's belongings in order to carry out the eviction. The landlord must use the court procedures.

If the landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to liability for the tenant's damages, as well as penalties of up to $100 per day for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods."

States enforce these laws because it's wrong to turn off someone's utilities , esp. during winter when they are needed most or if the tenants depend on electricity to support medical devices, hence that's why it's illegal to use self-help measures and landlords can get into serious trouble if they use them.

On that note, there are agencies that help people cover rent expenses when they unexpectedly find themselves in situations like these. Tell her to visit and local agencies that can help her.


3 years ago

Other Answers

A whole part of paying rent is paying utilities and If that isn't done then yes they can shut the power off.

by Michael D - 3 years ago

If she hasn't paid her rent the landlord can do anything they please, as it is their property. This includes turning the electric off, putting all her belongings in the street, changing locks etc...

Until she pays the rent, she has no right to be in the property. She should feel lucky the landlord hasn't kicked her out yet!!!

by MJWP - 3 years ago

this depends on the kind of agreement both parties have settled in. If your rent was to cover all space, electricity and water then the landlord have the right to shut it off. But if you are just paying for the space and the other expenses such as electricity and water is a different thing. Then you have the right that those other expenses you have made are not to be interrupted. Some lease spaces have individual meter counts of electricity and water consumption and the landlord don't care how much you consume on those meters because its your responsibility to pay them.

by Jeff - 3 years ago

Unfortunately for the landlord, he cannot legally turn off the power even if she is not paying the rent or power bill.

In the meantime, your friend should stop stealing the landlord's income and move out.


by R P - 3 years ago

No they cannot. That is known as constructive eviction and is illegal.

In the long run, deal with it. She's already stealing his money, so maybe rocking the boat isn't the smartest thing to do.

by the kid - 3 years ago

Bottom line here is she should focus her energy on getting into a place she can afford and not ruin her credit by staying where she is.

by E&L - 3 years ago