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utility settlement

NYC Rent Regulation: Rent Control/Rent Stabilized, DHCR Practice/Procedures

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utility settlement

Postby mandown » Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:27 pm

This subj came up in another thread but I guess you're supposed to start new after enough time.

My building (stabilized) is that strange case where they charge/collect for utilities at the same time as rent.

They suddenly claimed I owed a lot in back utilities... the billing has been wrong a lot & the law seems to be on my side... long story short, I finally got a letter from management committing to a settlement.
The letter says we've agreed that as soon as I pay $X all outstanding electric charges will be erased from my unit/bills.

I almost wrote a check right away, but now I've been advised (not by LL) to add this payment to the next rent check, since that's how you usually pay rent + electric here -- lawyer says this protects tenant best.
Does that sound right?
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Re: utility settlement

Postby TenantNet » Fri Jul 20, 2018 3:40 am

Whatever the old thread was, it had to do with someone else's building. A different situation.

Some questions. You say you are rent stab. So I don't understand what you mean by the LL collects for utilities? Specifically, which utilities? You mention electric, but are there others?

Is this an "electrical inclusion" building, or a shared meter situation? Do you even have a meter to your apartment? Does your initial lease and/or lease renewal say anything about this?

What kind of building is it? A few units with shared kitchen and bathrooms? A rooming house? A regular multiple dwelling with 6+ units? Please describe the building.

How does the LL charge for utilities? Is it the same amount every month (a flat charge the same throughout the year, or does it change according to the season?) Is it broken down to so much for electrical, so much for gas and so on? Does he give you a monthly bill? Or does the LL break down the charge by some measure of actual usage? Is it metered to your apartment, or metered for the the building? As usage changes from month to month, does the charge change from month to month? Does the LL give you a copy of the actual bill?

Why would you be paying the LL instead of Con Ed or your local provider if not Con Ed?

What kind of heat do you have? Is it central from a furnace/boiler in the basement? Or is it generated from a small unit in each apartment? Or is it electrical charged to each unit?

As for the back utilities, did they specify the amounts for each month? Was this based on a metered calculation, either for the building or for your unit?

What do you mean by the "law seems to be on my side?"

As for any settlement, I would certainly hold off until you get a lot of questions answered. The entire setup might even be illegal.

And as to any agreement, I would have it looked over by an attorney.

I would also pay the two bills separately, one check for rent and another for utilities (assuming that's correct and legal). You can also check with the Public Utility Project- they probably know more than we do, but be able to anser the questions above. http://utilityproject.org/

And depending on all the facts above, you might consider filing an overcharge complaint with DHCR. The situation might be kosher, but again it might not. I would get to the bottom of this.
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Re: utility settlement

Postby mandown » Thu Jul 26, 2018 2:52 pm

None of this is on the table. It is that rare case where they are allowed to bill it together. My last thread = same situation.

The point of a public forum (I figure) is cases might be similar so people could be helped by seeing how it went elsewhere. I'm with that, but all I ever hear is how I have some hope of proving this is illegal. I don't. So if my situation can't be compared to most, no point getting into every detail here. I'm not going to detail my life publicly any more than I have to, for a few reasons.

The only question I'm asking is whether following the usual payment protocol is right for this situation. Sorry if my phrasing made it sound like I was asking for more than a 2nd opinion about that one thing at the end. If you haven't seen any cases like this, you can't answer.
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Re: utility settlement

Postby BubbaJoe123 » Fri Jul 27, 2018 2:07 pm

My personal inclination would have been to pay the settlement amount separately, just for the sake of clarity in the future - you'd have a doc saying "I agree to pay $X to settle this claim," and a matching cancelled check for $X.

That said, your post ends with "lawyer says [paying in one check with the rent payment] protects tenant best." If that's what the lawyer who's represented you in this process is recommending, then I certainly wouldn't second guess them.
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