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shared meter conditions

If you are a residential tenant renting an apartment and have a Con Edison account for electricity or gas service, you should only be billed for the electricity or gas used inside your apartment. If you are being charged for service that others are using, you may have a "shared meter" condition. Shared meter conditions are governed by the Shared Meter Law, and Con Edison may be of assistance in getting the condition corrected.

What is a Shared Meter?

A shared meter is a utility meter that measures gas, electric or steam service used both inside and outside a tenant's dwelling. As such, the tenant is paying for service used in areas outside the dwelling that are not under the exclusive use and control of the tenant. For example, a meter that measures electric service to a tenant's apartment and also service to a common hallway is a shared meter if the tenant pays the charges for both.

What is the Shared Meter Law?

The overall purpose of the law is to eliminate shared meter conditions by detailing the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and owners of dwellings to correct the situations. The law applies to tenants in all residential rental dwellings in New York State and to all owners of those properties. In some cases, a third party may be involved in a shared meter condition, and the law protects tenants and owners from third parties who receive service through a shared meter.

The Shared Meter Law does not require shared meter conditions to be eliminated in the following limited cases: (1) the tenant occupies the dwelling under a lease or rental agreement in effect on or before October 24, 1991 (this exception lasts only for the term of the rental agreement); (2) the shared use of service is minimal as defined by the Public Service Commission and the tenant and landlord are able to agree on sharing the cost of service; (3) there is a legal prohibition on the installation of a separate meter to measure the service used outside the tenant's dwelling unit; or (4) the cost of installing a separate meter and any associated piping or wiring to separate the uses of service is an extraordinary amount as defined by the Public Service Commission.

(The Shared Meter Law may be found in Section 52 of the Public Service Law of New York State; the Public Service Commission's regulations on shared meters are in 16 N.Y.C.R.R. sections 11.30-11.32.)

Tenant's Responsibilities

The goal of the Shared Meter Law is to protect residential tenants from being required to pay for the energy used outside their dwelling or for energy use in any area or by any equipment that is not under their exclusive use and control. If a tenant suspects shared metering, he or she has the right to ask the utility that supplies the service to investigate. To investigate a shared meter condition, the utility will need:

access to the tenant's dwelling;
access to the meter(s);
access to other areas of the building under the tenant's control, if any; and
the owner/building manager's name, address and telephone number.

Owner's Responsibilities

The Shared Meter Law makes owners responsible for energy service used outside a tenant's dwelling or areas of control. If this usage is registered through a shared meter, the owner is usually responsible for eliminating the shared meter condition. However, the owner does not need to eliminate the condition if there is:

legal impediment — a government-imposed restriction by law, regulation, or order that prevents separate metering, re-wiring or re-piping. The restriction may be a zoning ordinance or local law that limits the number or type or location of meters in a building due to the historical significance of the structure or other reasons.
extraordinary cost — the cost, as determined by a qualified professional, of installing equipment necessary to eliminate a shared meter condition is in excess of the amount of four months' rent for the tenant's dwelling. The threshold test is two months' rent for the dwelling if the amount of service used outside the tenant's dwelling is less than 20 percent of the average monthly consumption over the last 12 months.
minimal service — the quantity of shared service recorded on the shared meter is estimated to be less than 10 percent of the total monthly consumption recorded on the meter over the last year, or 75 kWh of electricity per month or five therms of gas per month, whichever is greater.

In most cases, requests for investigation of suspected shared metering come from the tenant, but an owner may also request an investigation. The utility may also initiate an investigation based on information it receives.

When a utility conducts a shared meter investigation, building owners are required to:

provide access to all common areas of the building; and
cooperate with any other reasonable request by the utility that will help the investigation.

If an owner does not cooperate with the utility's request for assistance, a determination will be reached that the tenant's dwelling is served by a shared meter.

When There is a Shared Meter Condition

Once a shared meter condition has been verified by the utility after the required investigation, the utility must provide written notice of the condition to the tenant, the owner, and any other party receiving service through the shared meter.

The owner must correct the condition within 120 days. If the owner does not, the utility will establish an account in the owner's name and bill the owner for all future service recorded on the meter and an estimated charge for past service to areas supplied outside the tenant's dwelling during a prior period of up to six years. Owners may also be subject to a significant one-time charge for the existence of the shared meter.

If a tenant is receiving energy service through another tenant's meter, the tenant receiving the service can be billed for the energy that is used in his or her dwelling and in any other area under his or her control.

Tenants' accounts will be adjusted accordingly.


Some signs of the existence of a shared meter condition are:

a sudden, inexplicable increase in the amount of recorded service;
steady usage that is inconsistent (higher) with the electrical or gas requirements of appliances within the dwelling;
unusual wiring configurations;
a 'tampered' meter.

If you suspect a shared meter condition, contact Con Edison at 1-800-752-6633 and speak with a Customer Service Representative.



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