crip659 has it. It's a lost neutral, combined with a lack of competent ground rods. Due to gross disrepair and lack of maintenance, which is on you because you agreed to do it.
The Lost Neutral part: their fault maybe
95% of the time, the "Lost Neutral" is a problem up at the pole. The power company delivers 3-wire (since they're coming literally from the sky, they are not responsible for providing ground). The cable is triplex with 2 insulated wires (both hot) and a bare carrier wire (neutral). The carrier wire is the one anchored at both ends and whipping in the wind for 30 years.
Here's a knowledge bomb: copper and aluminum have no fatigue limit. That means ALL bending adds to metal fatigue (unlike steel where mild bending does not hurt it). That's why springs last forever, and airplanes don't.
Anyway, neutral is often overlooked by the power company. It's the wire nobody thinks about.
Now a Lost Neutral could still be caused by stuff on your end. If the neutral wire between meter and panel was having a bad day, or the wire connection at the meter then that's on you. Their responsibility starts with the splice at the top of the weatherhead.
Lack of GES or N-G bond made the problem much worse
and that's why you have smoked appliances.
I can tell from the way your voltages are going crazy that your Grounding Electrode System, or your Neutral-Ground Equipotential bond, are broken.
The first circuit breaker past the meter is called your Main Disconnect. It's usually a breaker. Sometimes it is up to 6 breakers (weirdly; no longer allowed; we'll come back to that) and is often also your main panel with all your breakers. This is where all the action is. None of this stuff is inside the meter pan! If it's there, it doesn't count. (some power companies require it also).
The Grounding Electrods System is the copper wire that leaves your ground bar in your main disconnect/panel, then goes out to grounding rods, or metal utility water pipe, or "Ufer" ties into the foundation's reinforcing rod.
Current Code calls for either a clamp on the utility side of the water meter - the meter may be plastic. OR, two copper-plated grounding rods at least 8 feet long, set at least 6 feet apart (farther is better; cattycorner on the building is best if you are looking for Actual Safety).
You can get it done with one rod if it passes a $300 impedance test - call an electrician to have your one rod tested, but most people just slap in 2 rods lol.
Inside a panel you have typically 2 neutral bars that are insulated from the panel chassis. Also zero or more ground rods that are bolted to the panel chassis. In the main panel/disconnect, those are bonded to each other - that's the Neutral-Ground Equipotential Bond. As such, you often see grounds as a guest on the neutral bar(s), and no ground bar of their own. That is fine; the N-G bond is the bar itself.
Other panels have separate neutral and ground bars, with the ground bar attached directly to the metal case. In that case, the neutral-ground bond is a screw or strap attached to the neutral bar. If you don't see it, you're welcome to make your own bond with the same wire you used for the GES.
Normally when a house suffers a Lost Neutral, the voltages get tilty, but like 110/130 or 90/150. They don't get extreme like 238/2, because neutral actually does have a path back to the transformer - the N-G bond, the GES, the dirt around your home, to the transformer's ground rod which is tied to its neutral. Or neighbor's GES to their N-G bond to their neutral.
You had the stuff-destroying extreme voltages because your GES or N-G bond was broken. This is just long-term negligence piling onto other problems. Like the swiss-cheese model in aviation, where shoddy airlines that don't do CRM or proper training, and then a couple of minor failures snowball.
Since you took responsibility for maintenance, this is on you. Fortunately the equipment itself is not expensive, the cost is in gaining the skill. Skill is forever. Skill is freedom. Skill is also big savings - I pay next to nothing to upkeep two automobiles, because I pay $150 for a transmission and $40 for brakes.
However, with electrical the key to success is to obsessively do everything to Code. People often resist because they don't like learning, or because they think that will be significantly more expensive, or because of some nonsense about the gub'mint. No, Code is your friend, if it doesn't seem so, you're probably misreading it. Ask us.
On messing with other people's stuff
"Don't touch my stuff" - Iron Man (referring to Loki)
I cut the little lock both times to pull the meter, and have already been told I'm not supposed to do so.
When a poor tenant opens a meter can, the presumptive reason is that they are stealing power. It's practically an open and shut case.
So yeah, stop randomly busting seals on meters. They do not belong to you.
When you need to bust a seal on a meter, you call the power company and say "hey, I'm fixing this and to do this I need to bust the seal on the meter. S'alright?" They say "yes" and note in their log that there's a valid reason for finding the seal broken, and that's that.
If you just did it, then you have that conversation and don't mention that you already did it. Unless they say "no" and then you say "well I already did it because again, I needed to".
If power is ever disconnected from the house (or before they could ever do anything) that pretty much my entire electrical system would have to be upgraded by a licensed electrician...
Correct, because the house doesn't belong to you. Only a homeowner-occupant can DIY electrical, and still must be fully Code compliant and ideally pull permits and all that jazz.
DIY repair is never allowed in rental properties. The government has a compelling interest to protect innocent party X from party Y doing slipshod, non-code-compliant repairs. Party X could be you or the landlord, depending on how you look at it.
However, there's a fairly easy way to make this your house on paper: a Land Contract. Normally those are pretty much a swindle, but you could write one that has no real effect if you don't pay the contract, other than revert you back to a tenancy under the pre-existing conditions. Food for thought there.
Here's the important thing: When you do illegal work, DO IT TO CODE. Because when they catch you doing illegal work, what is the complaint? The complaint is "this work is slipshod and dangerous". And you go "Oh, really?" And they look around and holy cow, your work is a masterclass in doing it right. There's nothing to cite and they're like "Work of this quality from a poor family, I am not busting their nuts over a lack of permit pull".