Philadelphia, PA asked in Energy, Oil and Gas and Landlord - Tenant for Pennsylvania

Q: Suspect gas lines aren't setup properly. Overcharged on gas bills.

My gas Bill's tripled dec and Jan. $140 in dec and $193 jan. I live in an efficiency smaller than most hotel rooms. I paid less in 3 bedroom houses monthly in past even in winter. I keep bugging and disputing and landlords avoiding. Bill is due Friday. Can I call gas company out without his consent? Can I hold out sum of bill on next months rent to fight wanting answers?

1 Lawyer Answer
Nellie T Schulz
Nellie T Schulz
Answered
  • Philadlephia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I assume that you live in a building which houses more than one tenant; that neither you nor any other tenant has its own gas meter; that you have lived at the building for a long time and that you have a written lease with a term longer than month-to-month; that you have read the lease carefully to see if there are any provisions about paying the gas bill; that the bill for gas is separate and not included as part of the monthly rental; and that you have compared last winter's gas bills to this winter's gas bills and that this year's are substantially higher.

While there are laws in Philadelphia which govern separate metering for WATER bills, I have not been able to find any definitive law requiring a landlord to provide separate gas meters for each apartment. I do not regularly practice in Philadelphia and you may be able to get a better answer from a Philadelphia landlord/tenant attorney.

You should contact the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections by dialing 311 and explain your problem and ask for an explanation. Their website is:

https://www.phila.gov/departments/department-of-licenses-and-inspections/

There are several organizations (none of which I am familiar with and so cannot recommend) which appear to be free which help tenants with problems, one of which is:

https://philalegal.org/housing

In the mean time, you should: (1) Write a letter to your landlord in the manner and at the address contained in the lease -- tell him you are concerned about the large increase in your gas bill and ask him: why the invoices have increased so much in the last 4 months, ask him for a full copy of four of his most recent gas invoices (from PG&E I assume), whether each other tenant 's share has been increased similarly to yours and been billed a similar increase, and ask him to provide you with written answers before the end of the week when the bill is due so you can avoid having to bring the situation to the attention of Licenses and Inspections; (2) Do not withhold rent, or your landlord will start eviction proceedings; (3) Call the gas company yourself and find out about the substantial increase in the cost of gas.

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