Legal Aid Helps Lorain Mother Fight Utility Shut-off

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November 2010 — Lorain resident Kristin Seljan’s electricity bill was almost double the usual amount, and she quickly discovered the reason. The landlord was allowing the other tenants in the two-family home to run a cord from her residence; Ms. Seljan was paying both families’ electricity costs. When she complained to the landlord, the landlord had the electricity turned off. For Ms. Seljan, the electricity shut-off was more than just an inconvenience. Her two-year old daughter was asthmatic and needed breathing treatments from an electric machine when her condition was aggravated. Ms. Seljan came to Legal Aid’s Lorain County Office, where staff attorney Amanda Davis recognized a familiar situation. She observed, “There are a lot of utility shut-offs because landlords think that is the quickest way to evict people. You find that a lot of them shut off the gas, electricity or water – rather than issuing the three-day eviction notice.” Ms. Davis knew that, regardless of any disagreement with a tenant, the landlord was legally obligated to keep the utilities on. She initiated a conference call with Ohio Edison, the landlord and Ms. Seljan. The electricity was restored the next day, and Ms. Seljan was able to breathe a little easier.

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