A hair salon owner recently sued its landlord over an alleged pattern of over-billing tenants for electrical utility usage. The landlord’s practice of hiding the true cost of electricity and then intentionally overcharging the tenants was not only a breach of contract but also a violation of state and federal racketing laws, according to the lawsuit. A Naples Daily News report indicated that the alleged misconduct by the landlord may have cost tenants tens of thousands of dollars each.
The lead plaintiff in the federal class action, filed in the Middle District of Florida, was Salon Adrian, Inc., a hair and nail salon business situated in the Gulf Coast Town Center, a shopping mall in Fort Myers. In 2006, Church signed a 10-year lease to rent a space at the mall. The lease stated that the landlord would bill the tenant for certain utility charges that were “not separately metered or assessed” or were “used in common with other tenants,” but the tenants’ bills would not be any higher than what they would have paid if they had contracted directly with the electric utility provider.