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legalgems
legalgems, attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
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My landlord has a submetering company individual electric

Customer Question

My landlord has a submetering company for our individual electric fees. Last year my electric bill tripled and has not gone back down at all. I called the management company for my development and reported this, they in turn directed me to the submetering company. After speaking with these folks they stated that I needed to have my HVAC system inspected by the management company as they believed that was the issue causing my excessive electric usage. This was completed and the inspection showed no problems with the unit, the submetering company then said that the management company needed to inspect my individual electric meter, they had one of their on site maintenace people check the meter and say that there was nothing wrong. My reaction to this was why can I not have the actual utility company send a certified inspector out and was told that the meters are owned by the submetering company and no one is allowed to touch them but them. I am now in the process of moving (my lease is up soon) and I have never gotten a reasonable answer as to why I am still being charged over triple the normal electric fee each month. I calculate that I have over paid just my electric fees around $2300 in the last year. Who can I or who should I contact about this for a tenant in the state of Maryland?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Has a formal complaint been filed?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
With both my landlord and the submetering company
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was told by both that they consider the matter closed. That is the reason that I have just paid the bills and waited, I did not want any backlash prior to the end of my lease.
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Pursuant to section h of the relevant statute (7-303) a complaint can be filed with the following organizations:

(h) (1) A complaint by an occupant of a dwelling unit or commercial rental unit against an owner, operator, or manager of an apartment house, office building, or shopping center under this section may be filed in the county or municipal corporation where the apartment house, office building, or shopping center is located.

(2) A complaint filed under paragraph (1) of this subsection may be handled by:

(i) the landlord-tenant commission, if one exists, of the county or municipal corporation;

(ii) the consumer protection agency, if one exists, of the county or municipal corporation if there is not a landlord-tenant commission in the county or municipal corporation;

(iii) the Consumer Protection Division of the Office of the Attorney General, if there is not a consumer protection agency in the county or municipal corporation; or

(iv) any other State or local government unit or office designated to handle tenants’ complaints.

Another option is to file with the Better Business Bureau as they have a non binding free mediation program which is very useful for these types of disputes.

For small claims, (http://www.courts.state.md.us/district/forms/civil/dccv001br.pdf) (cases under $5,000), the tenant may bring suit for the money paid. The plaintiff does have the burden of proof to show that there were excessive charges; however, if it can be proven that the bill tripled, and there was no justification (not an increase in occupancy, no defect in appliances, etc) then the court has jurisdiction to award the plaintiff the difference suffered (ie by averaging the cost of monthly bills prior to the dispute, compared to the increase after the dispute).

As for the individual meter, if that was only inspected by the landlord's on site management team, one would be able to argue that it was not an impartial inspection. Prior to losing access to the unit, a private inspector could be hired to analyze the situation.

Otherwise, if one does not wish to go the small claims route, the statutory complaint process would need to be pursued at the county level; ;if there is not an organization at the county level, then at the state level (ie attorney general) {but most people prefer small claims or the BBB for quicker resolution)

please scroll down on this link (http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/landlords.htm#assist) to ASSISTANCE WITH RENTAL PROBLEMS for a local contact.

Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Also please note this option:

How do I know my meter is accurate?

The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) determines the type of meter reading equipment the utility can install and use to bill a customer for gas or electric service. Before any meter is installed it has to meet the accuracy specifications that are required by the Commission. PSC rules require that the meter not be more than two percent fast or two percent slow. Moreover, every utility is required to randomly test a series of meters to ensure that they are accurate. If requested by the customer, the utility must test the meter at no charge, provided that it has not been tested previously within the last 18 months. Should a customer question the validity of the utility's test, he or she may request that the PSC conduct a referee test. There is a $10.00 fee associated with each referee test.

http://webapp.psc.state.md.us/newIntranet/info/utilitybill_new.cfm

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