senate Bill S1383

Relates to the collection of charges for heat-related residential utility service

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 07 / Jan / 2011
    • REFERRED TO HOUSING, CONSTRUCTION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO HOUSING, CONSTRUCTION AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Summary

Relates to the collection of charges for heat-related residential utility service.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A739
Versions:
S1383
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Housing, Construction And Community Development
Law Section:
Multiple Dwelling Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §79, Mult Dwell L; amd §173, Mult Res L
Versions Introduced in 2009-2010 Legislative Cycle:
S5063, A7354A

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1383

TITLE OF BILL:
An act to amend the multiple dwelling law and the multiple residence
law, in relation to the collection of charges for heat-related
residential utility service

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill would
amend section 79 of the Multiple Dwelling Law to eliminate the practice
of building owners charging residential rental tenants for electricity,
natural gas, and other fuel used for space heating in the dwelling unit.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Subdivision 1 of
section 79 of the multiple dwelling law is amended to prohibit an owner
or agent of any owner from separately charging tenants or occupants for
any electricity, electric service, natural gas or natural gas service or
other fuel utilized to heat living quarters. Section 173 of the multiple
residence law is amended to do the same.

JUSTIFICATION:
Shifting heating costs to tenants
reduces economic incentives for landlords to improve the thermal
efficiency of their structures, through measures such as insulation,
window replacement with high efficiency glass, and provide more
efficient heating systems, fixtures, and smart controls. This is
contrary to state policy to promote energy efficiency and to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions.

As utility costs rise, some building owners have begun to shift their
costs for fuel and electricity onto their tenants, by requiring tenants
to pay heating surcharges, separate and apart from rent, for fuel or
electricity used to heat their dwelling units. These surcharges are
based on consumption measured by either landlord-owned meters, or based
on apartment square footage allocations. These surcharges, typically for
natural gas or electricity, are inherently unpredictable, are not
quantified in tenant leases, and are not knowable in advance. As such,
they cause great hardship to tenants living on fixed incomes from social
security, disability and pensions, who lack significant savings.
Frequently, heating surcharges imposed by owners are not subject to
outside audit or verification by the tenant and are therefore inherently
prone to abuse.

Shifting building owners' heating costs to tenants through unpredictable
and continually varying surcharges renders these costs not transparent
to tenants, because owners are not obligated to reveal the energy
inefficiencies of their buildings or the amount of energy wasted by the
heating equipment they operate. In contrast, if building owners retain
direct responsibility for heating costs, they will recover those costs
in the rent they charge and they will have the incentive to adopt cost
effective efficiency measures. The charge for rent is fixed and

transparent, and can be understood by existing and prospective tenants.
The Multiple Dwelling Law already imposes upon landlords the obligation
to provide heat or heating fixtures to tenants.

This bill prevents owners of multiple dwellings from imposing charges
for natural gas, electricity, or other fuel used for space heating
separate from the stated rent. It does not affect situations where a
tenant has directly metered gas or electric service from a franchised
gas corporation or electric corporation.

Requiring tenants to pay surcharges to building owners for fuel and
electricity for heating denies them the protections of programs designed
by the legislature to protect low income utility customers from abuse,
such as the Home Energy Fair Practices Act (HEFPA), and the
legislatively-created safety nets for the needy including the emergency
utility assistance program under Social Services Law § 131-s and the
energy crisis provisions of the home energy assistance program under
Social Services Law § 97 (HEAP). Customer remedies and assistance in
these programs is triggered by a notice of termination of utility
service, and is not available when surcharges for heating costs are
deemed to be "added rent," allowing landlords to evict tenants for
nonpayment. Tenants who encounter temporary difficulty in meeting their
obligations to pay for fluctuating charges heat-related utility service
are in a far worse position than direct utility company over unpaid or
disputed charges; they are given the opportunity to pay arrears over
time in affordable installments through deferred payment plans, which
must be offered as an alternative to termination of utility service, and
they have the opportunity to obtain emergency HEAP or Social Services
Law section 131-s assistance. Such assistance is not available when the
landlord imposes a rent surcharge for a utility service it provides
through its own meters or for the cost of utility service which the
landlord uses to heat the premises and allocates based on square footage
or other factors.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
2009-10: Referred to Housing, Construction & Community
Development (S.5063)

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None is anticipated.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  1383

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                             January 7, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen. PERKINS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when
  printed to be committed to the Committee on Housing, Construction  and
  Community Development

AN  ACT  to  amend  the multiple dwelling law and the multiple residence
  law, in relation to the collection of charges for  heat-related  resi-
  dential utility service

  THE  PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. Legislative findings and  intent.  The  legislature  hereby
finds  that  assessment  and  collection  by multiple dwelling owners of
separate charges for electricity, electric  service,  natural  gas,  and
natural gas service or other fuel used to heat living quarters is not in
the public interest and should be prohibited.
  S  2.  Subdivision  1  of  section 79 of the multiple dwelling law, as
amended by chapter 225 of the laws  of  1982,  is  amended  to  read  as
follows:
  1. Every multiple dwelling exceeding two stories in height and erected
after  April eighteenth, nineteen hundred twenty-nine, and every garden-
type maisonette dwelling project erected after April  eighteenth,  nine-
teen  hundred  fifty-four,  shall  be  provided  with heat. On and after
November first, nineteen hundred  fifty-nine,  every  multiple  dwelling
shall  be  provided  with  heat or the equipment or facilities therefor.
During the months between October first and May thirty-first, such  heat
and  the  equipment  or  facilities  shall be sufficient to maintain the
minimum temperatures required by local law,  ordinance,  rule  or  regu-
lation,  in  all  portions  of  the dwelling used or occupied for living
purposes provided, however, that such minimum temperatures shall  be  as
follows:    (a)  sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit during the hours between
six o'clock in the morning and ten o'clock in the evening, whenever  the
outdoor  temperature falls below fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit, notwith-
standing the provisions of paragraph a of subdivision  four  of  section

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD00500-01-1

S. 1383                             2

three  of  this  chapter, and (b) at least fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit
during the hours between ten o'clock in the evening and six  o'clock  in
the  morning, whenever the outdoor temperature falls below forty degrees
Fahrenheit. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to relieve any owner
of  the duty of providing centrally supplied or other approved source of
heat prior to November first, nineteen hundred fifty-nine  in  any  case
where such heat is required by this chapter or any other law, ordinance,
rule  or regulation to be supplied in a dwelling prior to said date. The
heating system in dwellings used for single room occupancy shall  be  in
conformity  with  the requirements of section two hundred forty-eight OF
THIS CHAPTER. NO OWNER OR AGENT OF ANY  OWNER  SHALL  SEPARATELY  CHARGE
TENANTS  OR OCCUPANTS FOR ANY ELECTRICITY, ELECTRIC SERVICE, NATURAL GAS
OR NATURAL GAS SERVICE OR OTHER FUEL UTILIZED TO HEAT LIVING QUARTERS.
  S 3. Section 173 of the multiple residence law, as amended by  chapter
225 of the laws of 1982, is amended to read as follows:
  S  173. Heating. Every new dwelling shall be provided with heat in all
living rooms sufficient to maintain the minimum temperatures required by
local law, ordinances, rules or  regulation,  or  by  the  local  public
health  officer, provided, however, that such minimum temperature shall,
notwithstanding the provisions  of  subdivision  one  of  section  three
hundred  twenty-nine  of this chapter, be sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit
during the hours between six o'clock in the morning and ten  o'clock  in
the  evening  during  the  months  between October first and May thirty-
first, whenever the outdoor temperature falls below  fifty-five  degrees
Fahrenheit.  NO  OWNER  OR  AGENT  OF  ANY OWNER SHALL SEPARATELY CHARGE
TENANTS OR OCCUPANTS FOR ANY ELECTRICITY, ELECTRIC SERVICE, NATURAL  GAS
OR NATURAL GAS SERVICE OR OTHER FUEL UTILIZED TO HEAT LIVING QUARTERS.
  S 4. This act shall take effect immediately.

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