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I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

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I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby Ray Vincent » Tue Oct 15, 2019 8:58 pm

My landlord created an illegal apt whose utility usage is on my meter, inflating my utility bill. I'm a month-to-month tenant. Do I have any recourse in this situation?
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby TenantNet » Tue Oct 15, 2019 9:09 pm

First, can you describe the layout of units in the building. How do you know the unit below you is illegal? How many units in the building? How many per floor? What floor are you on? How old is the building? How long have you lived in the building?

Also, have you ever investigated whether you should be rent stab or not?
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby Ray Vincent » Wed Oct 16, 2019 10:09 am

The blog has two legal spots. My apt. was originally on two levels, with entry through the garage and the side on the ground floor and a separate (main) entrance on the second floor up a main outside stairway. The owner separated these two levels, so that my apt is accessible only from the building's main (outside) stairway. The garage no longer provides access to the illegal apt, and construction has separated the two apartments inside the building. The bldg is described as two-family on the DOB website. The LL has been cited for the illegal work. We've been here a year. I don't know how old the building is, but it's probably less than 50 years old.
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby TenantNet » Wed Oct 16, 2019 12:16 pm

So if it's less than 6 units, then it can't be rent stab. Check with the Dept. of Building's website to see if there are any permits for the construction. If not, you can make a complaint.

However understand that once you start making complaints, if you are M2M, then the LL will be likely to demand you leave.

Then go to this page: https://www.coned.com/en/accounts-billi ... red-meters

If you don't have Con Ed, your utility will have something similar.

Have you spoken to the LL about this? Tell him you should not have to pay for the power for the other tenant, and you want him to fix this. If he won't do that, then call the utility company. Also try the Public Service Commission - they might be able to help as well.
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby Mr_Buzzer » Thu Oct 17, 2019 9:59 am

Notwithstanding TenantNet's link to Con-Ed's page outlining their policy on shared meters and the shared meter law, here's how things shake out on the ground.

Awhile back (2011, if I remember correctly), a similar situation happened to a friend. It turned out she had the #3 situation (explained below), but also got a large one-time credit, as the LL's construction crew had been using the hall lighting line (which was siphoning electricity from her apartment) to run their power tools (table saws, etc.).

First, call Con-Ed and tell them of your suspicions. They will send an inspector to determine if there has been an illegal hookup to your electric service.

Depending on who they think made the illegal connection, they may disconnect it and report it to both the Dept. of Buildings* and Law Enforcement (which may or may not do anything).

If Con-Ed thinks a siphoning tenant is responsible, they will go the disconnect and report route. If they believe the LL or his agents are responsible, they will offer you some options and inform the LL that it's your choice. If the LL refuses to cooperate and correct the problem, they will do the same as they would for a siphoning tenant.

In either case, they will credit your bill for an estimated amount, based on your historical usage from a time believed to be prior to any illegal siphoning.

The options, as I remember them, were:

1. The LL hires a licensed electrical contractor to put in a new Electric Meter housing and Con-Ed will put in a new meter, with a new account, for the LL or siphoning tenant.

2. Assuming the wiring otherwise meets code, the LL hires a licensed electrical contractor to put in a new Sub-Meter housing, whose monthly usage will be subtracted from the total on your meter. (This option tends to be logistical, based on the building's existing wiring).

3. In the case of a fixed usage load, such as hall lighting, Con-Ed may leave things as they are, and apply a fixed monthly credit to your bill, and bill the LL for the credited amount.

*The Dept. of Buildings (DOB) also encompasses the Environmental Control Board (ECB), which is responsible for Electrical Code Enforcement since July 1, 2012. Illegal wiring is often a fire hazard. See:

Electrical ECB Violations

For reference, the Shared Meter Law was enacted in 1986, as an amendment to the 1981 Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA). It was further amended in 2002 by the Energy Consumer Protection Act (ECPA), which clarified the protections. See:

Shared-Meter-Law-1231131.pdf

And...

New-Yorks-Utility-Project-Law-Manual-6th-Edition-December-2013.pdf

Good Luck!
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 17, 2019 12:11 pm

Thanks for the additional information. I had lost the URL for http://utilityproject.org/ - but they are a good source if information.

Mr. Buzzer, are you affiliated with PULP, DOB or some other group?
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Re: I'm billed for utility use of the illegal apt beneath me

Postby Mr_Buzzer » Thu Oct 17, 2019 2:13 pm

"Mr. Buzzer, are you affiliated with PULP, DOB or some other group?"


Nope. No connection to any group or organization.
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