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Paying for water...shared between all apartments in building

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Paying for water...shared between all apartments in building

Postby JingoFresh » Mon Oct 28, 2013 1:54 pm

Hi All,

I'm fairly sure that my apartment is not RS. I can't say for sure, but have included a picture: [link removed] It is in east Williamsburg.

I would like to assume it is not RS to address my query, for simplicities sake.

The problem is that I get billed $50 each month for water costs, even though the managing agency only gets the water bill every three months.

They then credit or charge me any difference after getting the bill.

However, the problem is that it is one water bill for all apartments.

I was away for almost a month, and have only been living there for 2 months, so expected a decrease, but instead got a slight increase!

That's when I found out they just divide water usage by the number of apartments. Is this legal?

According to this site:http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/question-what-if-our-landlord-tricked-28042.html:
In New York, shared meters -- in which a gas, electric, or steam meter services the tenant's rental unit as well as other areas outside the tenant's unit -- are unlawful. This according to the chapter and verse of the law in the Large Apple: Public Service Law § 52(2)(a).


My lease says that I have to pay for water costs, which I am happy to do so and was assuming actual water costs.

It says nothing about paying an estimate for water costs based on sharing with 7 other apartments.

Basically, everyone else is benefiting from me being gone and I'm losing out.

Options?
JingoFresh
 
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Postby JingoFresh » Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:40 pm

I've been reading, perhaps the best thing is to notify the water company?

Since such meters are apparently illegal unless the landlord pay it...
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Postby JingoFresh » Wed Oct 30, 2013 3:59 am

TenantNet, do you have any input on this, or suggestions for references?

Surely it is illegal to charge me for water that I didn't use based on estimations from a shared meter?
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Postby TenantNet » Thu Oct 31, 2013 11:10 pm

A phot of the bldg really doesn't establish whether the unit is rent stab or not. In general if a building was built prior to 1974, if it is (or was) 6+ units, if it's not coop/condo and if not PROPERLY deregulated due to high rent or high income, then it should still be rent stab.

In most cases the LL pays the water bill. Unfortunately I don't have a citation on this. Is it stated in your lease? Is each unit metered? Those are issues.

Nolo has some good information, but it's often generalized for 50 states.
Have you called the NYC Water Board? Start here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/nycwaterboard/h ... home.shtml
718-595-6576

Also try the Public Service Commission and HPD. I would also look at the Dept. of Finance (which should send out water bills). It may take some digging to get a good answer. Don't let them tell you that you must pay it when they really don't know.

To try to get information (as to not making a complaint), I would avoid calling 311.
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Postby JingoFresh » Mon Nov 04, 2013 11:38 am

Hmm, thankyou TenantNet

According to this website http://bklynr.com/block-by-block-brooklyns-past-and-present/ my building was built in 1930...don't know how reliable that is though.

It's less than 6 buildings though...it's a weird situation actually, as there are 2 separate buildings on the property. I'm in the rear building, which may have been built later.

My lease says that I agree to pay water costs as added rent.

There is not a separate meter per apartment, there is just one meter for all 8 units, and the water biull is then divided equally between those 8 units.

This is what annoyed me as I was away for quiet a bit for work, so had expected to pay less...

Everything I've read thus far has indicated that if it is a shared meter I shouldn't be charged for water..

I just don't know if it's worth making a complaint or following up on about because I don't want to have to leave at the end of my lease.
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Postby TenantNet » Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:06 pm

There are a variety of sources one can look to establish year of construction: Dept. of Finance, Dept. of Buildings, various libraries (Columbia Univ. architectural library is great if you can get access), and other sources.

I think you mean 6 units, not 6 buildings. And some buildings started out with 6 units, but then some might have been combined. You can check to see if there is a Certificate of Occupancy on the building, required since 1939, but in some cases they exist for older buildings. That should indicate the number of units. So would the building plans.

What you describe might be a "back building" which you often see on the Lower East Side. In some cases one can see if there are 6+ units total using both buildings, and they might be considered a "Horizontal Multiple Dwelling" if they share ownership, boilers and other things.

I would check with the NYC Water Board as to the metering. But be careful and for now I would not use your name when contacting these agencies - you don't want it to get back to the LL, at lease not now, until you've thoroughly done your homework.

I can't speak to the legality of being forced to pay for water. I don't think it's legal (especially without submetering), but you might want to get a legal opinion.
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Postby JingoFresh » Fri Feb 21, 2014 4:25 pm

I don't know why I can't find more information on this, it seems it should come up more often.

My water meter is definitely shared and so is the heat, and it is in my lease that I have to pay it, despite it not being an accurate estimation of my water usage as I travel a lot for work.

Are there no clear restrictions on shared meters for water/heat, regardless of what is in a lease?

I've spoken to utility companies who cannot help and suggest I get a lawyer. I was hoping for some help on here since I would think it is a common issue with a black/white answer.
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