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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

504B.215 Billing; loss of services.

Subdivision 1. Definitions. For the purposes of this section, "single-metered residential building" means a multiunit rental building with one or more separate residential living units where the utility service measured through a single meter provides service to an individual unit and to all or parts of common areas or other units.

Subd. 2. Single-meter utility service payments. In a residential leasehold contract entered into or renewed on or after August 1, 1995, the landlord of a single-metered residential building shall be the bill payer responsible, and shall be the customer of record contracting with the utility for utility services. The landlord must advise the utility provider that the utility services apply to a single-metered residential building. A failure by the landlord to comply with this subdivision is a violation of sections 504B.161, subdivision 1, clause (1), and 504B.221. This subdivision may not be waived by contract or otherwise. This subdivision does not require a landlord to contract and pay for utility service provided to each residential unit through a separate meter which accurately measures that unit's use only. This subdivision does not prohibit a landlord from apportioning utility service payments among residential units and either including utility costs in a unit's rent or billing for utility charges separate from rent.

Subd. 2a. Conditions of separate utility billing to tenant in single-meter buildings. If the landlord of a single-metered residential building bills for utility charges separate from the rent, the following conditions apply:

(1) prospective tenants must be provided notice of the total utility cost for the building for each month of the most recent calendar year; and

(2) an equitable method of apportionment and the frequency of billing by the landlord must be predetermined and put in writing for all leases.

The lease must contain a provision that, upon a tenant's request, a landlord must provide a copy of the actual utility bill for the building along with each apportioned utility bill. Upon a tenant's request, a landlord must also provide past copies of actual utility bills for any period of the tenancy for which the tenant received an apportioned utility bill. Past copies of utility bills must be provided for the preceding two years or from the time the current landlord acquired the building, whichever is most recent.

The landlord of a single-metered residential building who bills separately for utilities may, if the landlord and tenant agree, provide tenants with a lease term of one year or more the option to pay those bills under an annualized budget plan providing for level monthly payments based on a good-faith estimate of the annual bill.

By September 30 of each year, a landlord of a single-metered residential building who bills for gas and electric utility charges separate from rent shall inform tenants in writing of the possible availability of energy assistance from the low income home energy assistance program. The information must contain the toll-free telephone number of the administering agency.

Subd. 3. Procedure. (a) When a municipality, utility company, or other company supplying home heating oil, propane, natural gas, electricity, or water to a building has issued a final notice or has posted the building proposing to disconnect or discontinue the service to the building because a landlord who has contracted for the service has failed to pay for it or because a landlord is required by law or contract to pay for the service and fails to do so, a tenant or group of tenants may pay to have the service continued or reconnected as provided under this section. Before paying for the service, the tenant or group of tenants shall give oral or written notice to the landlord of the tenant's intention to pay after 48 hours, or a shorter period that is reasonable under the circumstances, if the landlord has not already paid for the service. In the case of oral notification, written notice shall be mailed or delivered to the landlord within 24 hours after oral notice is given.

(b) In the case of natural gas, electricity, or water, if the landlord has not yet paid the bill by the time of the tenant's intended payment, or if the service remains discontinued, the tenant or tenants may pay the outstanding bill for the most recent billing period, if the utility company or municipality will restore the service for at least one billing period.

(c) In the case of home heating oil or propane, if the landlord has not yet paid the bill by the time of the tenant's intended payment, or if the service remains discontinued, the tenant or tenants may order and pay for one month's supply of the proper grade and quality of oil or propane.

(d) After submitting receipts for the payment to the landlord, a tenant may deduct the amount of the tenant's payment from the rental payment next paid to the landlord. Any amount paid to the municipality, utility company, or other company by a tenant under this subdivision is considered payment of rent to the landlord for purposes of section 504B.291.

Subd. 4. Limitations; waiver prohibited; rights as additional. The tenant rights under this section:

(1) do not extend to conditions caused by the willful, malicious, or negligent conduct of the tenant or of a person under the tenant's direction or control;

(2) may not be waived or modified; and

(3) are in addition to and do not limit other rights which may be available to the tenant in law or equity, including the right to damages and the right to restoration of possession of the premises under section 504B.291.

HIST: 1999 c 199 art 1 s 24; 2000 c 268 s 1,2