Several lights in the common area outside my apartment are on 24 hours a day, lighting the driveway and back path that the 3rd floor tenant uses. These lights are hooked into my electric meter. Does Massachusetts law allow the landlord to do that? If not what can I do about it?
-- (Posted on the Forum Chat Room by November73)
No, in fact, Massachusetts law specifically prohibits the landlord from improperly metering so that tenants are billed for the electrical usage of common areas or of other apartments. If you simply want the problem fixed, and don’t want to recover whatever charges you incorrectly paid, ask your landlord to fix the problem. If he/she refuses, or if you want to recover the incorrect charges, contact inspectional services (or the Board of Health) and ask them to look into the matter. 220 CMR 29.01 through 29.13 (Combined Massachusetts Regulations) outline a procedure you can follow to rectify the problem and, possibly, receive a refund for some of the improperly metered electricity.
The procedure starts with the inspection by the Board of Health. If the inspector finds that the lights are improperly metered, he/she must issue a report (and deliver it to the electric company within 60 days). Upon receipt of the report, the meter in question is switched over to the landlord's account until the Board of Health certifies that the problem has been corrected. Then, depending on the scope of the problem, you may be entitled to a full or partial refund of your electric bill for the past two years.