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Utility Guide to Renting
  

Before signing the lease for your new apartment, understand what your utilities will be like before writing your name on the dotted line. The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, your residential utility consumer advocate, has resources to help you understand utility service, how to read your bill, speak to door-to-door solicitors, respond to marketing offers, and even save you money.

Setting up service


Refer to your rental agreement to learn who is responsible for setting up utility service. Is utility service the landlord’s responsibility or yours?
 

If you are responsible for establishing the utility service, your utility will want to ensure your financial responsibility and may run a credit check. If you do not have a sufficient credit history, or if you have had your utility service disconnected for nonpayment, you may be required to pay a deposit for setting up new service.

Once you have reviewed the lease and determined who is responsible for the utility services, you should familiarize yourself with common utility issues and read our tips for renters.

Utility Service for Tenants (Submetering)

Tenants should understand how they will receive and pay for utility services before signing a lease agreement. 

Electric Bill Made Easy

It is important that you read your bill each month, look for any unusual charges, and keep track of your normal electricity usage.

Natural Gas Bill Made Easy

It is important to read your bill each month, look for any unusual charges, and keep track of your normal natural gas usage.

Know simple ways to save money


There are simple, low-cost ways every renter can save money. A common energy-wasting culprit is standby power, also known as “vampire power,” and according to ENERGY STAR the average U.S. household spends $100 on devices using vampire power. Many common household electronics, like microwaves, televisions and phone chargers, are using power while they are plugged in but not in use. The average home has 25 electronic devices, and their combined vampire power usage can be surprising. Our fact sheets have information about the power used by devices in standby mode and other smart tips to save you energy and money.

What's draining your energy? Vampire Power

The average household spends $100 every year on vampire power. 

Conserve Energy and Save Money

Learn energy-saving tips that can reduce your home’s energy costs.

Understand what you’re paying


Read your bill every month, and understand the charges. Some Ohio utility consumers have reported their natural gas or electric supplier was switched illegally or “slammed” by energy marketers. Unauthorized charges are sometimes “crammed” onto long, confusing bills. If you don’t understand the charges or recognize companies on your bill, you may be paying for services you didn’t authorize.

If you have a question about your bill, refer to our fact sheets for an explanation of common billing charges. If your billing questions still aren’t answered, call your utility company.

Pay your bill as soon as possible to avoid late fees or missing a payment. For the convenience of online or over-the-phone payments, a consumer may be charged a fee each time a payment is made. Before using these methods to pay your bill, check if any charges apply for the service.

Electric Bill Made Easy

It is important that you read your bill each month, look for any unusual charges, and keep track of your normal electricity usage.

Natural Gas Bill Made Easy

It is important to read your bill each month, look for any unusual charges, and keep track of your normal natural gas usage.

A Guide to Your Water Bill and Service

Understanding your water bill and service.

How to Avoid Utility-Related Scams and Fraud

Common utility-related scams, how to avoid being scammed, and where to report it.

Look out for submetering


Some Ohio residents in new apartments or condominiums are not receiving bills from their utility company. Instead, they are receiving bills from a third-party, submetering company. Submetering companies place a meter in each unit in a housing complex and record each unit’s usage individually. However, some submetering companies have overcharged consumers up to 40 percent.

Before signing the lease, check for utility-related information. If your service is submetered or you suspect it may be submetered, research the utility company with the Better Business Bureau, talk to your landlord and speak with current residents to ensure you are being charged correctly.

Laws protecting consumers from excessive overcharging are being considered. Until such laws are in place, you must be cautious.

Submetering (reselling of utility services) and proposed legislation

A submeter allows an apartment owner or other company to purchase utility service (electric and water) and then resell that service to tenants.

Utility Service for Tenants (Submetering)

Tenants should understand how they will receive and pay for utility services before signing a lease agreement. 

Understand your energy choices


Ohioans have an energy choice to make: who will supply my electricity and natural gas? It is very common for energy marketers to solicit renters by phone, by mail or door-to-door. However, you are under no obligation to select an energy marketer; there is no guarantee you will save money by switching to an energy marketer. Don’t feel pressured by solicitors to switch suppliers. It is also strongly recommended that you do not show your utility bills or give out account numbers to solicitors. Understand your energy choices with our fact sheets.

How to Spot a Bad Apple

A bad deal with a natural gas or electric marketer could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. There are some “bad apples” to avoid!

Complaints


We are currently assisting consumers with complaints about two types of utility service issues, submetering and Basic Local Exchange Service (BLES) landline telephone. If you have a complaint about a utility service that is resold to you by a middleman company (also known as submetering), we are currently directing customers to the Ohio Attorney General at http://www.ohioattorneygeneral.gov/Individuals-and-Families/Consumers/File-A-Complaint.aspx or at 1-800-282-0515 (toll free in Ohio) or (614) 466-4986 (local). 

You may contact us online, call the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC) at 1-877-742-5622, locally at (614) 466-9467 or e-mail your inquiry to occ@occ.ohio.gov.

You may also write us at:

Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel
65 East State Street, Suite 700
Columbus, Ohio 43215-4213

If you have an issue with your utility service not listed above, please contact the PUCO know via their online complaint form. Complaints and questions may also be made over the phone at 1-800-686-7826, or write to the PUCO at:

Public Utilities Commission of Ohio 
ATTN: IAD
180 E. Broad St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215-3793

For complaints about non-utility matters, contact the Ohio Attorney General at 1-800-282-0515.

 

Other resources for renters
Ohio's Legal Aids
 
Contact your school

There are resources to help students who are moving off-campus, commuting or graduating. Visit your college or university’s website for information about housing and events. This list is only a sample of housing offices from Ohio colleges and universities. For more information, contact your higher education institution.

InstitutionOffice
University of AkronOff-Campus Living
Bowling Green State UniversityOff-Campus Student Services
Case Western Reserve UniversityDivision of Student Affairs
University of CincinnatiDivision of Student Affairs, Office of the Provost
Cleveland State UniversityDepartment of Student Life
University of DaytonOffice of Student Development
John Carroll UniversityOffice of Residence Life
Kent State UniversityCommuter and Off-Campus Student Organization
Miami UniversityOff-Campus Outreach, Division of Student Affairs
Ohio UniversityDivision of Student Affairs
The Ohio State UniversityOff-Campus and Commuter Student Services
University of ToledoCommuter Student Services
Wright State UniversityStudent Support Services
Xavier UniversityCommuter Services and Off Campus Living
Youngstown State UniversityHousing and Residence Life

 

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