Is it legal to not have meters for heat for multiple apartments?

In our lease it states that we are responsible for our heat and hot water( which is oil heat). There are no meters with the oil tank that show how much oil each unit has used. In the building there are three apartments, one of which is vacant and two stores in front. Is it legal for the landlord to hold us responsible for paying this? We have no way of know which unit is using how much of the oil. If it matters we are in MA not sure if the laws vary by state.
Meghaneoak
Asked Jan 07, 2013
The key to resolving this issue is to understand how the costs are being calculated. If the landlord has taken the total cubic space and divided the area of each unit to create a percentage of the total that unit occupies then splits the cost by those percentages, that would be a fair way of doing it without raising everybody's rent to put in a more elaborate system. If the cost is calculated any other way, however it is unfair to some of the tenants. You might be able to sue the landlord to get your money back if you have been charged unfairly. If the landlord is making money from it and has used deception to mislead the tenants, it might also be criminal fraud.

I would ask for an explanation of how they determine the amount of your heating bill and if they are unwilling to provide that, get all of the factual information together and contact the Mass. Office of Consumer Affairs.

Mass law on tenant rights:
www.mass.gov/ago/docs/consumer/landlordtenant073007.pdf

Mass laws on winter heating:
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/subject/about/heat.html




Rob
Answered Jan 07, 2013

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