This rule is to address circumstances where the utility company knows that the customer is the landlord for a multi-unit dwelling (i.e., tenants who receive master-metered services) or for a single-occupancy dwelling where the utilities are included in the rent. A utility company may disconnect the utility service of these consumers, for nonpayment by the landlord, only in accordance with the following:
(A) The utility company shall give a notice of disconnection of service to the landlord/agent at least fourteen days before the disconnection would occur. If, at the end of the fourteen-day notice period, the customer has not paid or made payment arrangements for the bill to which the fourteen-day notice relates, the utility company shall then make a good faith effort by mail, or otherwise, to provide a separate ten-day notice of pending disconnection to the landlord/agent, to each unit of a multi-unit dwelling (i.e., each tenant who receives master-metered service), and to single-occupancy dwellings where the utilities are included in the rent. This ten-day notice shall be in addition to the fourteen-day notice given to the landlord/agent. This notice requirement shall be complied with throughout the year. In a multi-unit dwelling, written notice shall also be placed in a conspicuous place.
(B) The utility company shall also provide all of the following information in its ten-day notice:
(1) A summary of the remedies tenants may choose to prevent disconnection or to have service reconnected.
(2) A statement to inform tenants that a list of procedures and forms to prevent disconnection or to have service reconnected are available from the utility company upon request. A model form of the tenants' ten-day notice is attached as appendix A to this rule.
(C) The utility company shall inform any consumer inquiring about the notice, posted pursuant to paragraph (A) of this rule, of the amount due for the current month's bill and that the disconnection of service may be prevented if the consumer(s) makes a single payment to the utility company in the amount of the current month's bill.
(D) The utility company shall credit to the appropriate account any payment made by tenants equal to or exceeding the landlord's current bill for those premises. The utility company is under no obligation to accept partial payment from individual tenants. The utility company may choose to accept only a single payment from a representative acting on behalf of all the tenants.
(E) No utility company shall disconnect service to master-metered premises, or to a single-occupancy dwelling where utilities are included in the rent, when all of the following actions take place:
(1) A tenant delivers to the utility company a copy of the written notice required by division (A) of section 5321.07 of the Revised Code, signed by fifty per cent or more of the tenants of the occupied dwelling units in a multi-unit dwelling, or the tenant in a single-occupancy dwelling, which notice shall designate the imminent disconnection of utility service (as shown by the disconnection notices received) as a reason for the notice.
(2) A tenant informs the utility company in writing of the date of the last day on which rent may be paid before a penalty is assessed or the date on which default on the lease or rental agreement can be claimed.
(3) The tenants timely invoke the remedies provided in divisions (B)(1) and (B)(2) of section 5321.07 of the Revised Code, including but not limited to:
(a) Depositing all rent that is due and thereafter becomes due to the landlord, with the clerk of the municipal or county court having jurisdiction.
(b) Applying to the court for an order to use the rent deposited to remedy the condition or conditions specified in the tenant's notice to the landlord (including but not necessarily limited to payment to the utility company rendering the disconnection notice).
(F) Each utility company that delivers notice pursuant to paragraph (A) of this rule shall provide to each tenant, upon request, the procedures to avoid disconnection or to have service reconnected as described in appendix B to this rule. The forms referenced in appendix B to this rule shall be made available by the utility company and also will be available on the commission's website at http://www.puc.ohio.gov/PUCO/rules or by contacting the commission's call center at 1-800-686-7826 (toll free) from eight a.m. to five p.m. weekdays. Hearing or speech impaired customers may contact the commission via 7-1-1 (Ohio relay service). The utility company shall also identify for the tenant any resources in the community where he/she can obtain assistance in pursuing his/her claim, including but not limited to:
(1) The telephone number(s) of the local legal services program (in cities over one hundred thousand served by that utility company).
(2) The toll-free number(s) for the Ohio state legal services association.
(3) The toll-free number(s) of the office of consumers' counsel.
(4) The telephone number(s) of the local bar association.
(5) The telephone number(s) of the local tenant organization(s).
(G) If a utility company disconnects service to consumers whose utility services are included in rental payments or who are residing in master-metered premises, the utility company, upon inquiry, shall inform the consumer that service will be reconnected upon payment of the amount due for the current month's bill plus any reconnection charge if the payment is made within fourteen days of disconnection. The utility company shall continue service at the premises as long as the tenant's representative continues to pay for each month's service (based upon actual or estimated consumption) by the due date of the bill for that service. The utility company shall also reconnect service for those consumers who, within fourteen days of the disconnection of service, invoke the provisions of section 5321.07 of the Revised Code, as specified in paragraph (E) of this rule. If the consumers choose to have their service reconnected by paying the current month's bill and payment is not made by the due date each month, the utility company shall post the notice in a conspicuous location on the premises and make a good faith effort by mail or otherwise to notify each household unit of a multi-unit dwelling, or tenant receiving service in the master-metered premises, or tenant in a single-occupancy dwelling, of the impending service disconnection. The utility company is not required to reconnect service pursuant to this paragraph where the landlord resides on the premises.
(H) The utility company shall provide service to a master-metered premise only if the customer is the landlord/owner of the premises. Company acceptance of new applications for service to master-metered premises requires the landlord/owner to provide to the company an accurate list specifying the individual mailing addresses of each unit served at the master-metered premises.
(I) The utility company may charge the landlord/owner of the master-metered premises, or of a single-occupancy dwelling, a reasonable fee, as set forth in the utility company's tariffs, designed to pay the utility company's incurred cost for providing the notice to tenants required by paragraph (A) of this rule.
(J) The utility company has the burden of collecting from the landlord/owner any billed amounts unpaid at the next billing cycle.
(K) If a customer, who is a property owner, landlord, or the agent of a property owner, requests disconnection of service when residential tenants reside at the premises, the utility company shall perform both of the following actions:
(1) Provide at least a ten-day notice prior to the disconnection of service by mail to the residential tenants or by posting the notice in conspicuous places on the premises.
(2) Inform such customer of the customer's liability for all utility service consumed during the ten-day notice period.
(L) Notwithstanding any notice requirement for a utility company under paragraph (K) of this rule and paragraph (A)(3)(d) of rule 4901:1-18-06 of the Administrative Code, a utility company will not be found to have violated these rules if either the following occurs:
(1) The utility company uses reasonable efforts to determine the status of the customer/consumer as either a property owner, landlord, the agent of a property owner, or a tenant.
(2) The customer/consumer misrepresents the status of the customer/consumer as the property owner, the landlord, the agent of a property owner, or a tenant.
R.C. 119.032 review dates: 11/30/2013
Promulgated Under: 111.15
Statutory Authority: 4905.04
Rule Amplifies: 4905.06, 4905.22, 4905.261, 4905.30, 4933.12, 4933.121, 4933.122, 4911.021
Prior Effective Dates: 3/22/80, 10/6/82, 12/1/83, 4/21/86, 12/19/86, 9/1/04, 11/1/10