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Utility charges being paid to landlord

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Utility charges being paid to landlord

Postby JingoFresh » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:36 pm

Hi guys,

I just had some questions about utilities.

This is my first time renting in the city, so I'm not familiar with things like this.

On my lease, I agree to pay for water, hot water and heat(gas/oil) to the landlord, i.e. these utilities are not in my name.

I just got my first water bill, which is a fixed amount charged at the start of every month. I have not even moved in yet to use water, so this surprised me.

Is it allowed to charge a flat rate for a utility like this?

I was also under the impression that if there is a shared meter, utilities can't be charged separately...what can I do if they are being charged separately?

Thanks
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:48 pm

What kind of housing do you live in? Apartment, rooming house? Unregulated or rent stab? How many units in the building? How old is the building?
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Postby JingoFresh » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:58 pm

It's an apartment, there are 6 total apartments in the building.

There are two buildings on the property, I am in the rear building.

It is unregulated.

Not sure how old the building is.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:48 pm

Is it in NYC? Can you hazard a guess if the building was built prior to 1974?
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Postby JingoFresh » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:56 pm

It's in east williamsburg....I'm not knowledgeable enough to guess the age of the building...
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:06 pm

The reason I'm asking is because it might mean it should be rent stab. LLs are notorious for claiming that RS units are not so.

You don't have to be an architect. Does it look like it was built in 1925, or 1975?

What about neighbors? Any long-time tenants who might know what is going on?

Have you asked for a rent history from DHCR?
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Postby TenantNet » Sun Sep 01, 2013 4:01 pm

I guess you can't - are won't - answer these questions which could impact the questions you pose. Let's pout it this way, in most situations the LL will pay for heat, hot water and even cold water. It will be included in the basic rent. Most buildings have their water meters - if there are any meters - for the entire building, not broken out for individual units.

Other utilities, such as electricity and cooking gas are usually paid for by the tenant with meters per unit.

Even if it is unusual, we can't say it is necessarily illegal.

I would suggest you call the utility and start asking questions there.
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Postby JingoFresh » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:53 am

Hi TenantNet,

Sorry for the late reply. I must have missed the reply notification and then work just got away from me.

I'm not from NY, or even the US originally, so I'm not familiar enough with buildings to guess the age. I don't think it's very old though, at a guess. Lets says 80's or later.

I have all utilities in my name except heating, hot water and water.

From what I was reading, when there is a shared meter, it is illegal to charge tenants for those utilities, instead they need to be included in the rent.

Let's assume a non RS apartment with a shared meter for heating and hot water, is that the case?

For my cold water, they charge a set amount each month as an estimation and when they actually check, either charge more of refund some to reflect the actual usage.

I'm wondering how legal all of this is.
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Postby JingoFresh » Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:28 am

It is 100% not a RS apartment...there is a clause in the lease to that effect.
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Postby TenantNet » Fri Sep 20, 2013 5:36 am

A clause in the lease stating it is not a RS unit has no meaning. RS status is not an agreement between the LL and tenant; it is determined by the law, which is in the jurisdiction of DHCR or the courts. In fact, a clause like that would indicate to me the LL might be trying to hide something.

You seem not to be sure as to the age of the building. I would investigate further. Check with the Dept. of Buildings and Dept. of Finance (both online).

As for meters, I'm fairly certain that water, heat and hot water are paid for by the landlord (although I can't cite a specific law on that). Cooking gas and electricity would be covered by the tenants. You should have meters in the apartment or in the basement.
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