Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Submetered Yonkers Tenants Show How PSC Order Allowed Landlord to Shift Million Dollar Electric Bill to Low Income Tenants

The Riverview II Tenants Association filed a Reply with the PSC May4 2009 in further support of their request for a stay of submetering. The reply shows how the landlord shifted an annual electric bill of more than one million dollars to low income tenants in the 343 unit former Mitchell Lama housing project.

About 300 of the tenants receive section 8 subsidies, but adjustments due to the new submetered electric bills cover only half the cost. As a result of the PSC order, these low income tenants must shoulder hundreds of thousands of dollars of added new costs out of their meager budgets.

The PSC order erroneously indicates the premises are subject to rent stabilization. When rent stabilized premises are submetered, DHCR rules provide for some reduction in rent.The tenants claim that in the months preceding the submetering, the landlord sought and obtained increases based in part on the electric costs no longer paid by the landlord due to the PSC submetering order. The landlord has denied that electric costs were included in the rent-setting calculations, but the rents have gone up, not down, and the tenants now have large bills for electricity not offset by adjustments in their rent subsidies.

Further, the tenants show that although the PSC allowed submetering in the name of energy efficiency, and the landlord received NYSERDA money to install submeters in accordance with PSC policies for use of funds collected through PSC-created System Benefit Charges,
  • the premises are still heated with baseboard electric heat lacking master thermostatic control (each radiator has a knob with only three settings),
  • the building is poorly insulated and drafty,
  • there was no provision for modernization of air conditioners, and
  • there was no consideration of replacing the electric heat with a natural gas heating system.

The owner argues that these facts are not relevant and that halting submetering at Riverview II would impede PSC policies.

For further information see our prior post, Yonkers Tenants Ask PSC to Halt Submetering at Riverview Towers, and PULP's website page on submetering.

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