San Jose renters get hit with high bill after squatters leave

SAN JOSE, CA -- A San Jose family that moved into a rented home discovered someone was already living there. But that was only part of the problem. This is a bizarre story that took quite a lot of sorting out.

Flora Mejia moved into a spacious home with her son, daughter in law and four grandchildren. When she began moving her stuff in, she made an unwelcomed discovery. Strangers were living in the pool house behind the main home.

"I'd see guys coming and going," Mejia said.

Mejia's son Raymond Talamtes said, "Apparently, they were throwing parties every week, crazy stuff."

We're told the parties included 100 people. Mejia told her landlord she couldn't live there under those conditions.

"There was too much chaos for her over here. It was just really loud, all night long," Talamtes said.

"I started to move in June 16, but then I moved some of my stuff and I've seen what was going on with the rave parties and all that. I told my landlord, no. After they move out, then I'll move in," Mejia said.

The landlord worked to evict the squatters and two months later in August, they were gone. Mejia and her family completed the move into the home and everything was good, but then she received her first PG&E bill.

Mejia received a bill for $3,542.43. She looked at that total and said, "What the heck? This is ridiculous. It's not mine."

Mejia says she immediately suspected it was the squatters that ran up that big bill. She called PG&E and told the company about the squatters and how they left the flood lights on day and night. She also said their speakers blasted music all night long. However, the utility told her either she or her landlord would have to pay the bill. Her landlord refused.

"He said it wasn't his responsibility. It was these people's responsibility and they were squatters," Mejia said.

The three-way fight with PG&E and her landlord left Mejia frightened. She uses medical equipment at night and could not rest easy knowing her power could be shut off.

"I was really scared. I was scared they were going to turn the lights off on me because I have to wear a mask at night to breath," Mejia said.

PG&E was billing Mejia from the time of her original move in date in June. The landlord told PG&E she didn't move in until August. But the utility didn't budge, saying one of them would have to pay the bill. This went on for months until Mejia contacted 7 On Your Side. We explained everything to PG&E. They told us: "In order to meet the customer's needs, we removed the charges from her bill."

"Thank you very much. I'm very, very grateful," Mejia said.

We contacted the landlord, Melendez Management Group, but it did not return our calls. PG&E would not say if the bill has ever been paid.
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