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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. 2b. De minimis exception. Any tariff approved by the Public Utilities Commission
regarding a violation of subdivision 2 shall include a de minimis exception. The de minimis
exception shall provide that electrical service in a common area that does not exceed an aggregate
1,752 kilowatt hours per year, which service is measured through a meter serving an individual
residential unit, shall not cause a building to be a "single-metered residential building" as used in
this section. The amount of common area usage may be determined by actual measurement or,
when such measurement is not possible, it may be determined not likely to exceed 1,752 kilowatt
hours per year by a licensed tradesperson or a housing inspector. The landlord shall bear the
burden and cost associated with proving an exception.
If a tariff is not adopted, this subdivision shall have no effect.
    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.
History: 1999 c 199 art 1 s 24; 2000 c 268 s 1,2; 2006 c 183 s 1