Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tiffany Mews Tenants Respond to Landlord's Defense of Submetering

Tenants at Tiffany Mews in Brooklyn filed a petition with the PSC asking the Commission to halt submetering. Tiffany Mews Tenants Ask PSC to Halt Submetering with No Proper Order and No Filed Tariff or Contracts Approved by the PSC, PULP Network, July 31, 2009.

The Petition was shunted instead to the Department of Public Service Office of Consumer Services, to be handled as a complaint.

On behalf of the Tiffany Mews Tenants' Council, PULP filed a Reply to the Response of Related Tiffany, the owner of Tiffany Mews on December 15, 2009.

In the reply, the tenants argue that a prior PSC order allowing submetering for a condo project that was aborted did not authorize submetreing to low income tenants because condo owners agree to submetering when they agree to the Offering Plan when they buy their units. Under PSC submetering orders for rental properties, valid tenant consent to submetering must be obtained in lease agreements containing the PSC-approved rates, terms and conditions of service.

The owner, however, did not obtain a new or revised PSC order allowing submetering to tenants, did not obtain valid tenant consents, and circumvented the Home Energy Fair Practices Act, for example, by not giving notice of the availability of PSC complaint determination procedures, and by seeking to evict tenants based on nonpayment of charges for electricity.

The owner, through its agent AMPS, also subjected tenants to real time pricing experiments without their consent, which Related Tiffany says was not authorized. See Landlord Discloses Submetering Company "AMPS" Conducted Unauthorized Time of Use Pricing Experiments on Tiffany Mews Tenants, PULP Network, November 12, 2009.

The tenants also clarify that although the premises have a central heat system, the heat is distributed through motors and fixtures that add to their electric bills, that the owner has not installed energy efficient appliances except when old ones break down, the premises are not energy efficient, and submetering is causing them hardship.

See PULP's web page on submetering for more information.

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