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Are You Paying for More Than You Use?

If you’re a renter, you should only be paying for the electricity or gas used inside your apartment. If you are being charged for service that others are using, like lights in a common hallway, you may have what’s called a "shared meter." Shared meters are governed by the Shared Meter Law, and we may be able to help you get the condition fixed.

Shared Meter Signs

You might be paying for someone else’s energy if you’ve noticed:

  • Your bills are suddenly higher and there’s no explanation
  • Steady usage that is consistently higher than expected
  • Wiring that looks unusual
  • Obvious meter tampering

If you notice any of these signs, and suspect your meter is being shared, call us.


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What Is a Shared Meter?

A shared meter is a utility meter that measures gas, electric, or steam service used both inside and outside your home. This means, as a renter, you’re paying for service you aren’t actually using. For example, a meter that measures the power going both to your apartment and to a common hallway is a shared meter if you’re paying the charges for both.

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What Is the Shared Meter Law?

The law aims to eliminate shared meters and to make clear what owners and tenants are required to do if a shared meter exists. The law applies to tenants of residential rental units in New York State and to all the owners of those properties. In some cases, a third party may be involved in a shared meter, and the law protects tenants and owners from third parties who receive service through a shared meter.

There are a few situations where the law doesn’t require the shared meter to be fixed. They are:

  • The tenant occupies the residence 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).
  • 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.
  • There is a legal prohibition on the installation of a separate meter to measure the service used outside the tenant's dwelling unit.
  • 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.)

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Your Responsibilities As a Tenant

If you think you may have a shared meter, please ask us to check it out. To investigate a shared meter condition, we will need:

  • Access to your home
  • Access to your meter(s)
  • Access to any other areas of the building that are under your control
  • Your building owner/manager's name, address, and telephone number
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Your Responsibilities As an Owner

If we find that you’re paying for energy registered through a shared meter, you are usually responsible for eliminating the shared meter condition. However, you don’t need to eliminate the condition if there is:

  • Legal impediment—a government-imposed restriction by law, regulation, or order that prevents separate metering, rewiring or repiping. 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 more than four months' rent for your tenant's home. The threshold test is two months' rent if the amount of service used outside your tenant's home 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 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per month or five therms of gas per month, whichever is greater.

In most cases, tenants will request an investigation of suspected shared metering, but owners may also request an investigation. We may also initiate an investigation based on information we receive.

When we conduct a shared meter investigation, building owners are required to:

  • Provide access to all common areas of the building
  • Cooperate with any other reasonable requests by Con Edison that will help the investigation

If an owner does not cooperate with our request for assistance, it will be assumed that the tenant's home is served by a shared meter.

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When a Shared Meter Is Confirmed

If our investigation confirms that a shared meter is present, we 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, we 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 home 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 home and in any other area under his or her control.

Tenants' accounts will be adjusted accordingly.

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