Enercare Extorts Landlords…

March 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment · Commercial Property, Landlord Advocacy, Property Management, Rental Property

Grumpy Mary
country_boy_shane / Foter / CC BY-ND

Oh Enercare, I think it is beyond time that the Ombudsman got a report about your behavior. Long story short a tenant from hell left one of the most beautiful condos in the city of Toronto a complete disaster and a large electricity bill. After the landlord regained possession by evicting the tenant, she called Enercare to get the electricity turned on. Enercare will not turn on the electricity until she pays her tenants’ electricity arrears. Enercare won’t even bill the landlord but insists that she pay the tenant’s arrears. Enercare won’t even show the landlord the tenant’s bill, because of privacy concerns.

Landlords Forced To Pay For Tenants Utilities

I’ve discussed this before regarding municipalities forcing tenant’s water arrears onto landlord’s tax bills. With an example like that what would stop companies like Enercare from extorting landlords? Nothing even though they know it’s illegal.  Mostly because of this ruling… Bracebridge Hydro Electric Commission v. 796479 Ontario Ltd. (Gen. Div.), 1991 CanLII 7049 (ON SC)

Because there is a very definitive ruling on the legality of what Enercare is doing, I wrote them this email several days ago. When the owner called today, they had no record of the email.

Monday March 24th 2014,

 

Enercare Connections Inc

Customer Care Center

P.O. Box 4638 Station A

Toronto, Ontario

M5W 5C7

 

Attention Legal Department,

 

Re: 907 – 90 Stadium Road Toronto, Ontario M5V 2Z7

 

It is my understanding that you have told the owner that she must pay Enercare the outstanding electricity arrears owed by the tenant.

According to current law, Enercare is not allowed to withhold electricity from the unit and by doing so is harming the owner. The unit cannot be rented until the electricity is turned on.  The landlord continues to lose money because of Enercare’s extortion.

The landlord has no obligation to Enercare to pay the electricity consumed by the consumer . Enercare has even refused to share the bill with my client because of “privacy issues” Surely the 3 lawyers employed by Enercare (as disclosed by the CSR) could recognize the absurdity created by this situation.

Enercare had every opportunity to mitigate their losses, first by requiring a deposit or by turning off the power.  The landlord had no such opportunity and it is for that reason that the landlord will not pay the electricity bill.  The landlord had no agreement with Enercare, nor were they invoiced or advised that they were responsible.

If Enercare continues to harm the landlord by failing to provide electricity as they are required to by law, damages will continue to accumulate as the unit remains without power and unrented.

The landlord has agreed to pay the reconnection fee $240.00 which must be invoiced to her.

 Rachelle Berube

Bracebridge Ruling

Here’s the interesting part… and the part that consistently gets municipalities water billing policies overturned when fought in court. Because if you don’t want to get a lawyer and fight you have no rights…just whatever people tell you to do. Below is the very specific excerpt from the lawsuit.  See those utilities are in business to make money and they do make money, but now they want the landlords to take all the risks when they are the only people who can do something (like get a security deposit) to avoid risk. Or shut off the Hydro or the water. The landlord is specifically forbidden to do that.

The issue is whether the Commission has the authority to require the landlord to sign as guarantor for the tenants in order that the tenants may receive a supply of hydro from the Commission.

As counsel for the respondent pointed out, none of the tenants are parties to this application, nor have they been served with notice of the application. They would therefore not be bound by any decision in this application.

It is the respondent’s position that there is no statutory authority for the Commission to demand such guarantees as it is the respondent’s position that the Commission is a statutory body and only has the power to do those things which the statute permits it to do.

The respondent further argues that the Commission is requiring the landlord to do things which he is not permitted to do under provincial statute. In particular, the respondent argues, the Landlord and Tenant Act, R.S.O. 1980, c. 232, does not permit the landlord to obtain a security for deposit for non-payment of hydro supply. Nor does the Landlord and Tenant Act permit the landlord either to cut off the supply of hydro for non-payment by the tenant of his hydro, nor can the landlord request that the Commission cut off the supply of utilities for non-payment.

Section 84(1) [subsequently rep. & sub. S.O. 1987, c. 23, s. 3] of the Landlord and Tenant Act provides:

(1) A landlord shall not require or receive a security deposit from a tenant under a tenancy agreement entered into or renewed on or after the 1st day of January, 1970 other than the rent for a rent period not exceeding one month, which payment shall be applied in payment of the rent for the last rent period immediately preceding the termination of the tenancy.

Section 121(4)(a) [subsequently am. S.O. 1989, c. 72, s. 18] reads:

A landlord shall not,

(a) withhold reasonable supply of any vital service, such as heat, fuel, electricity, gas, water or other vital service, that it is his obligation to supply under the tenancy agreement or deliberately interfere with the supply of any such vital service whether or not it is his obligation to supply such service during the tenant’s occupation of the premises and until the date on which a writ of possession is executed …

The respondent argues that the Commission has power which the landlord does not have. These powers are adequate to protect the Commission’s interest and the Commission can require the tenant to give a security deposit to obtain utility. The Commission can cut off the utility for non-payment of the utility account by the tenant. The landlord has no similar powers. The Commission’s requirement that the landlord give a guarantee is unnecessary when considered with the Commission’s other rights.

The respondent argues that the requirement of a guarantee by the landlord is, in effect, asking the landlord to do something which the landlord cannot do under the Landlord and Tenant Act. It is contrary to the principles of the Landlord and Tenant Act. The landlord argues that if it has to give a guarantee then the landlord would need a security deposit and the right to cut off power for non-payment of the power account to support its guarantee.

Enercare stop your extortion, take your lumps like every business and stop whining like a little bitch and trying to get the landlord to pay you money that they don’t owe. It’s just sad and dirty and sleazy. Did I mention that there’s an inquiry into Hydro One billing practices at the Ombudsman office? I wonder how nice it would be if it were extended to Enercare? Surely getting landlords to pay tenants electricity bills would be something that would interest the Ombudsman…

Happy Thursday!

 

 

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Jimmy

    I have read the ruling and you are right. The commission does not have the authority to require that the landlord provide a guarantee nor does it have the right to add the amount of any arrears onto the tax roll.

    What I didn’t see was any requirement for the commission to provide service to a specific tenant if they do not want to. Enercare seems to be riding that loophole here.

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