The case sheds light on the responsibilities of landlords regarding the actions of their tenants and serves as a reminder to businesses and individuals about the consequences of meter tampering and illegal connections.
The matter came to the forefront when Kitogara Limited, a property owner based in Koki, sought a court order to permanently restrain PPL from disconnecting electricity. This move followed the issuance of a substantial back-bill of K323, 517.29 to Kitogara due to illegal electricity connections carried out by one of its tenants, Changle Enterprise Ltd.
Changle Enterprise Ltd, which operates several businesses including the fast food chain DFC & KMC and TNZ, a freezer goods distribution company, was named the Second Defendant in the case. Kitogara argued that Changle Enterprise Ltd's actions were responsible for the back-bill resulting from unauthorized connections to two units rented by the enterprise. However, the court found that Kitogara, as the landlord, could not escape liability for the unpaid bill.
The court session, presided over by Deputy Chief Justice Ambeng Kandakasi, took place on Tuesday, August 8. The court dismissed Kitogara's application as well as Changle Enterprise's attempt to prevent PPL from issuing a disconnection notice related to a 48-hour Payment Reminder Notice sent on May 24, 2023. This notice was PPL's method to recover the outstanding back-bill amount.
Alzaria Hombunaka, the lawyer representing PPL, pointed out that the meter connection arrangement and billing systems were registered under Kitogara's name. Therefore, the Payment Reminder Notice was rightfully directed to Kitogara Ltd, the property owner, rather than Changle Enterprise Ltd, the tenant.
The court's ruling emphasized that Kitogara take ownership of the situation and settle the outstanding bill. Additionally, both parties were ordered to bear their own legal costs.
As a result of this ruling, PPL will proceed with its disconnection process to recover the outstanding bills. The disconnection will target Changle Enterprise Ltd's Shop 1 and 2 through the Check Meters, as well as the entire commercial building consisting of twenty shopping units through the bulk meter.
PPL's loss of K323, 517.29 underscores the seriousness of such activities and highlights the financial burden that can arise from them.