Tenant Extortion?
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Tenant Extortion? (by Jane [DC]) Mar 15, 2010 12:40 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Natalie [CA]) Mar 15, 2010 12:52 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Dale [KY]) Mar 15, 2010 1:10 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by XtheGypsy [FL]) Mar 15, 2010 1:14 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by allin [VA]) Mar 15, 2010 1:23 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Moshe [CA]) Mar 15, 2010 1:32 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by OPM [OR]) Mar 15, 2010 1:53 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by IN [IN]) Mar 15, 2010 2:25 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Chris [CA]) Mar 15, 2010 3:07 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by RJ [WI]) Mar 15, 2010 3:55 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Smokowna [MD]) Mar 15, 2010 4:00 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by ManateeAlley [FL]) Mar 15, 2010 4:22 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by Laura [MD]) Mar 15, 2010 7:38 PM
       Tenant Extortion? (by billy [MA]) Mar 16, 2010 8:03 AM

Tenant Extortion? (by Jane [DC]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 12:40 PM

Hello fellow LL's. I had a tenant who moved out on 1/30/10 and I specifically informed her to shut down her electric utility account on the last day (1/30/10) I then created my own electric account as I was moving back into the unit.

I got an email last week from my former tenant saying there were 10 days that she was billed $54 worth of electric expenses in February (i.e. after she left the premises). I told her that I setup my own account right after she left so it is not my responsibility that she did not shut down her account after she left. I also didn't see a copy of the bill and have no idea if she's telling the truth (I assume she is).

This week, she sent me a threatening email noting that she knew I was running an illegal rental (i.e. not registered with the city as a landlord) and that if I didn't send her $54 to cover the utility bill, she would contact DC's regulatory agency and say I was involved in tax fraud.

I wanted to know if this is an extortion attempt and how to handle it. I can understand if she said she would take me to small claims court to settle this matter, but she threatened me with contacting a regulatory authority that had nothing to do with the matter at hand (i.e. payments for utilities and not landlord registration status).

I was wondering if this is extortion and how to handle it. Please share your thoughts and thanks.

State Specific Question About: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC)


Tenant Extortion? (by Natalie [CA]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 12:52 PM

That doesn't make sense... If you transferred utilities in your name she shouldn't have been charged anything starting from the day you transferred. They can't double charge for the same service. I would call utility company and figure out what is going on. --24.6.xxx.xxx

Tenant Extortion? (by Dale [KY]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 1:10 PM

Do you have to be registered with the city? Are you? If you are not doing anything wrong, Iíd tell her to pound sand.

If you are doing tax fraud, well I donít know what to tell you. In my city, one rental would not require me to register. I need to have over $50,000 per year rental income first.


Tenant Extortion? (by XtheGypsy [FL]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 1:14 PM

So, do you need to be registered as a landlord or not?

If you do, are you registered?

Tenants call the health dept., etc all the time on landlords.

Deal with it.

If you need to get registered, then get registered. If not, why worry.

As suggeted above, why not call the utility and see if you can get this straightened out.

Also, many of us don't take kindly to threats by tenants. Make sure you are in the right and take preemptive action. --98.64.xxx.xx

Tenant Extortion? (by allin [VA]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 1:23 PM

If your in the right then send a copy of the letter to the police and see if they will do anything. --198.119.xxx.xxx

Tenant Extortion? (by Moshe [CA]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 1:32 PM

At first glance, it doesn't sound like extortion.

Is it possible that, after you created your own account, it took a while for the meter reader to come out?

Maybe the moral of the story is for you to go beyond "specifically informing her to shut down her electric utility account on the last day" to you actually doing the work and ensuring that the billing is accurate.

Besides, isn't her bill a matter between her and the utility co?


Tenant Extortion? (by OPM [OR]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 1:53 PM

JANE here ya go

extortion n. obtaining money or property by threat to a victim's property or loved ones, intimidation, or false claim of a right (such as pretending to be an I.R.S. agent). It is a felony in all states, except that a direct threat to harm the victim is usually treated as the crime of robbery. Blackmail is a form of extortion in which the threat is to expose embarrassing damaging information to family, friends or the public. --207.200.xxx.xx

Tenant Extortion? (by IN [IN]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 2:25 PM

First off you need to see a copy of her bill or call the electric company and advise them of the problem.

After you see the bill, then pay part of it if it is an error, if not point out the bill and the read date, and also show her a copy of your bill.

I have had this problem before, not a big deal if you communicate.

Cops could care lass.


Tenant Extortion? (by Chris [CA]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 3:07 PM

Who is this person? Age, job, temperament (choleric?). Who in their right mind would NOT shut off utilities asap and switch the breaker or unplug the hot water heater? As a LL, my concern is to make sure they are paying their utilities!

This is a good example why letter writing can be foolish.

Normally, meter readings are part of a moving out procedure. And $ 54 is kinda high.

You made that call to the utility company? --125.27.xx.xx

Tenant Extortion? (by RJ [WI]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 3:55 PM

$54 for 10 days seems about right, in fact, for WI it seems low for the winter months. Thats only $162 for a month. Anyway, yes, its extortion (as if there is any question about that).

More than likely, if they go to the city, the city wont do anything since they no longer live there. You gotta think though, if they go to the city, can the city do anything to you for YOU living there? If the city cant or wont do anything, then forget them and let them get the money from the utility company. If the city would make you move out, then the $54 would be dirt cheap to be able to stay, extortion or not.

I think your answer saying to get the money from the utility company is correct. The reason they are contacting you is because they already did that and the utility company told them to pound sand. You may want to tell them there is nothing you can do without seeing the bill in question and then after seeing it, restate they should get the money from the utility company but thats just a tactic to throw them of balance (one I like though). In the end, I bet it boils down to the 10 days late was the best the utility comapany could do for reading the meter so thats that according to the utility company.... that should be your answer as well. --71.98.xx.xx

Tenant Extortion? (by Smokowna [MD]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 4:00 PM

Who actually used the $54. of electricity?

If you are moving back into the house, you are no longer going to be a rental. In which case I would forward the number to the DC department that registers houses. I would be so bold as to call them first, explain that a former tenant will be calling and then let the tenant know what I had done.

Tax fraud is a completely different animal. I would explain to the tenant that the IRS does not care if I hold a license or not. In layman's terms you can use illegal aliens as an example. They are out of status but still need to pay taxes.

I know how you feel, don't let it bother you. Sometimes you want to slap someone silly while you explain life to them. Remember they are just in a bad mood and all this will wash away quickly. I had a tenant turn me in years ago (not really me, someone who I helped at the time). So I closed the rental down, booted the tenant. The person was caught off guard. Washington DC is a difficult place to be a landlord, very pro tenant laws. Since this person is gone you have more elbow room to do whatever you wish.

Returning to my point, if the heat or water heater ran up that $54. bill, I would pay it regardless. Pepco may also drop the charge if the tenant objects to them. --173.66.xx.xxx

Tenant Extortion? (by ManateeAlley [FL]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 4:22 PM

A tenant tells you something, so now you have to trust their account as being accurate? I'd contact the Power company and ask the date they read the meter, as well as the reading. Tenant may have been carrying a balance that was not forwarded and came due upon closing the account. If that's the case I'd DEMAND a written apology, (or worse)... --76.108.xxx.xxx

Tenant Extortion? (by Laura [MD]) Posted on: Mar 15, 2010 7:38 PM

I would be surprized if DC retroactively pursues issues which have been resolved (in that you the owner /not a tenant currently reside in the property so no license necessary). Good advice to call DC rental office and get a take on thier reaction to the situation. If you owe the expanse i would pay it, but not because of this threat. I would determine if it was extortion and proceed accordingly (if you have time for this B@LL$&%#). --71.127.xx.xx

Tenant Extortion? (by billy [MA]) Posted on: Mar 16, 2010 8:03 AM

she should take it up with the utility who is billing her.i dont see that u did anything wrong. --208.58.x.xx

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