A pizza boss horrified to discover that she had been paying for the power use in two other buildings
A restaurant owner puzzled by her sky-high electricity bills says she was horrified to discover she had also been paying the bills for a nearby bowling alley and hotel.
Patricia Rodrigues, 29, couldn't understand why she was paying around £1,300 a month for her pizza restaurant until she had an electrician come round to check it out.
The pizzeria boss claims she was stunned to find she had also been paying for an adjacent hotel and bowling alley - adding nearly £42,000 extra to her bills over the seven years.
The Mondragone Ristorante e pizzeria in Brandon, Suffolk is part of a complex that includes the Brandon Lodge Apartment Hotel and Mr G's Bowling centre which are both owned by landlord Nolan Guthrie.Image by: Patricia Rodrigues
When Patricia queried her bills with Mr Guthrie, he stated in a letter that it had been agreed she would pay all the power bills as part of the terms of renting out the restaurant.
But Patricia, who has been running the business since 2011 with her brother Fabio, claims she has never formally signed any terms or conditions or even lease.
She claims Mr Guthrie had delayed agreeing a formal lease when she first rented the property and only confirmed the rental amount.Image by: Patricia Rodrigues
The single mother-of-two said: "When I opened the restaurant, it didn’t enter my mind that we would be paying for someone else’s electric.
"Then we started seeing that our bills were getting really high.
"I have been asking for a contract and a lease to be set up since I have moved in and I think this is why he never done so".
Patricia says her electricity bills started off at £150 and then gradually increased.
She added: "My electricity bill went up gradually - it went to £250 then £300 and so on.
"I was thinking maybe it is just getting busier at the restaurant which means we would be using more electricity - but then it went to £600, £700, £1,000 and kept going".Image by: Patricia Rodrigues Image by: Patricia Rodrigues
After having an electricity meter built into her restaurant, Patricia discovered that she should be paying between £400 and £500 a month.
An average household pays around £1138 a year in electricity bills and uses an average of 3,100 kWh a year.
But Patricia, who pays £833 a month on rent, was paying around this in one month and claims she would be using around 100 kWh on a "busy" day.
She added: "When the electrician switched the meter board off, the lights in the whole building went out.
"The landlord came running into the restaurant and tried to throw the electrician out - there was a big argument between them - and he said what they were doing was illegal".
A letter from Weeting-based Forest Electrical, states: "Following my visit to your premises today, I can confirm that the three phase electricity supply contact through a standard meter is also supplying electricity to two further circuits in separate premises to your own.
"In short, you are paying for the electricity to two different dwellings/businesses other than your own."
Patricia claims he has not paid her back the money she is owed and has since stopped paying the electricity bills for the last three months.
She adds: "It has been really hard for me.
"I held on for so long, because if they threw me out I would have nothing.
"I have had the police in here because I was worried about him.
"I just wanted to run away and disappear - it has been so expensive for me."
The Mr Guthrie has denied comment.Image by: Patricia Rodrigues
Patricia says she is now moving her restaurant after being unable to settle the dispute.
Patricia later said she believed the two extra electricity circuits were connected to hotels rooms on the ground floor next to her restaurant, and rooms on the first floor above - but NOT the nearby bowling alley.
She said she thought there were eight to ten rooms in total.
Speaking today (wed), Nolan Guthrie advised OFF THE RECORD that Patricia Rodrigues had been aware of the extra electricity circuits.
He said this had been an informal arrangement as the rent for her business premises was low.
He denies her claim that she was unaware of this.