senate Bill S1775

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

  • 12 / 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

Versions:
S1775
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Senate Housing, Construction And Community Development
Law Section:
Multiple Dwelling Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง79, Mult Dwell L
Versions Introduced in 2009-2010 Legislative Cycle:
S4749

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S1775

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the multiple dwelling 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.

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::
2009-2010: S.4749 Referred to Housing, Construction & Community
Development

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
________________________________________________________________________

                                  1775

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                            January 12, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sens.  PERKINS, KLEIN -- 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, in relation to the collection
  of charges for heat-related residential 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
three  of  this  chapter, and (b) at least fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD06747-01-1

S. 1775                             2

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. This act shall take effect immediately.

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