Meddling landlord needs to be stopped.
September 12, 2012 4:48 PM   Subscribe

My new landlord (Ottawa, Ont) is being negligent/inappropriate in a few ways. This specific question is regarding their need to set up our hydro account in my roommates name for a different address even though hydro is our responsibility and she (my roommate) had already done so. That's.. not legal, right?

We were informed when signing the lease that hydro would be our responsibility. Standard, awesome, we are both adults, have lived in more than a few rental properties, are well-versed in tenant responsibilities and my roommate was already in the process of switching her already existing account from her old address. Regardless, our landlord thought she'd help us out (?) and set up a brand new hydro account, in my roommates name for (wait for it) our neighbour's address. It was only by freak chance that the first bill managed to land in our mailbox so we could call hydro to deal with it. This can't be legal. It was done using my roommates name without her consent or knowledge. What kind of action should we be taking here? This is a new level of bizarro landlording for me.

posted by Carlotta Bananas to Law & Government (8 answers total)
How do you know that your landlord meant to register it for the neighbor's house and didn't just typo the numbers? Does your LL also own that one?
posted by cmoj at 4:50 PM on September 12, 2012

Have you asked your landlord about it? It sounds a lot more like a mixup than a scam to me.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 4:53 PM on September 12, 2012

We haven't asked the landlord yet, I was hoping to know where we stood should it not be a mix up so we know what we're talking about when we bring it up. Based on other inappropriate actions from the landlord I'm leaning towards grossly overstepping her bounds. Whatever the motivation my question remains: is this legal?
posted by Carlotta Bananas at 4:58 PM on September 12, 2012

It's probably not legal -- she's entering into a contract in someone else's name without their permission. The landlord has to pay hydro if there is no tenant associated (in Quebec, and looking at the setup for hydro in Ontario probably the same thing), so she was probably making sure you set it up to start on the right day.

I assume the address thing was an accident. I also figure this was her overstepping her bounds, but not actually meant maliciously. (Without knowing what the other actions she took were.) Has she been a landlord for a long time? When you phoned hydro to get this all fixed up, what did they say should happen after you explained the situation?

The appropriate action is to phone the landlord/tenant board or a tenants' rights group to ask them what you should do in Ottawa. This one might be handy.
posted by jeather at 5:10 PM on September 12, 2012

Unless there's some history here you're not relating, this looks a lot more like a landlord trying to give you a hand and making a typo than a "meddling landlord that needs to be stopped."

Reasonable people can settle things like reasonable people. Call her, and ask for clarification before escalating.
posted by mhoye at 5:22 PM on September 12, 2012

Hi, I work in Ontario at a legal clinic doing quite a lot of Landlord & Tenant Board issues. I AM NOT A LAWYER (yet), nor am I your lawyer.

This would definitely not be legal, as jeather says. And yeah, the LL would pay hydro when a spot is unoccupied.

Question: does your LL own the neighbouring property? If not, it's definitely an honest mistake, because then they're not getting any reward. Even if it is, it sounds more like a well-meaning but not super-versed-in-the-law LL. Is it a property management company, or are you renting it out from a generic person who has a spare house? The latter I can see making an honest mistake of this.

Drop the landlord a line and ask her to cancel the account. Do you have her email address? If so, please email her rather than call her. Paper trails are helpful to you (and...your poor beleaguered lawyer/caseworker if you end up at the LTB. Not that I'm bitter), and emails are less formal than mail, so you get to keep the friendly relationship. If not, just call her, it's not a big deal by any means, but ask her to get you a copy of the closing letter that Hydro One sends her, just for your peace of mind.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:04 PM on September 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

(Forgot to mention: if you or your housemate are low-income, drop me a MeMail and I'll send you the contact info for the Community Legal Clinic in Ottawa - they won't charge you a cent!)
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2012

Entering into a contract in someone else's name without their permission= fraud. And if the hydro is your responsibility, it seems unlikely that the landlord would go to the trouble of setting it up for you.

Plus, (in most cities), when someone moves and cancels/changes the address on their hydro, the hydro company leaves the electricity on for a few days as a courtesy to the next tenant. So there's really no reason for your landlord to have done something like this. On the other hand, there's not a lot of benefit that I can see the landlord getting out of doing it deliberately. So it's probably not a scam of any kind.


Even if this was a totally honest mistake and an attempt to be helpful, you need to make it clear to your landlord that it is absolutely, positively, NEVER ok to register for any goods or services, create any agreements, or do ANYTHING else under your name without your explicit permission. You need to nip this wildly inappropriate behaviour in the bud NOW before it escalates.

People can't just go using your name for shit without your say-so and without informing you; it's a violation, it's fraudulent, and it's downright rude. I'd be infuriated.
posted by windykites at 8:29 PM on September 12, 2012

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