Introduced by Representatives Keenan of St. Albans City and Young of Orwell
Subject: Commerce and trade; residential rental agreements
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to clarify the obligations of a landlord and a tenant with regard to payment for gas and electric service to areas outside the tenant’s dwelling unit.
AN ACT RELATING TO PROVISION OF GAS AND ELECTRIC SERVICE OUTSIDE DWELLING UNITS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 9 V.S.A. § 4457a is added to read:
§ 4457a. GAS AND ELECTRIC SERVICE OUTSIDE DWELLING UNIT
(a) If a landlord of a dwelling unit provides separate gas and electric meters for each tenant’s dwelling unit and if a tenant’s gas or electric meter measures service to an area outside the tenant’s dwelling unit, and the landlord or landlord’s agent has knowledge of those facts, the landlord, prior to the inception of the tenancy or upon discovery, shall:
(1) explicitly disclose that condition to the tenant; and
(2) make arrangements, as are mutually agreed to in writing, for payment for the gas or electric service provided through the tenant’s meter to serve areas outside the tenant’s dwelling unit.
(b) Arrangements for payment, as required under subsection (a) of this section, may include the following:
(1) The landlord becomes the sole customer of record for the tenant’s meter.
(2) The area served outside the tenant’s dwelling unit becomes separately metered, and the landlord becomes the customer of record for service so metered.
(3) The tenant agrees to pay for the service provided through the tenant’s meter and serving an area outside the tenant’s dwelling unit.
(c) A landlord who fails to comply with subsection (a) of this section shall be liable to the aggrieved tenant in a civil action under this section. The remedies the court may order shall include the following:
(1) Requiring the landlord to be made the sole customer of record with the utility for the tenant’s meter.
(2) Ordering the landlord to reimburse the tenant for payments made by the tenant to the utility for service to areas outside the tenant’s dwelling unit. Payment to be reimbursed under this subdivision shall commence from the date the obligation to disclose arose under subsection (a) of this section, and the tenant may be awarded exemplary damages not exceeding two times the value of the payment made to the utility.
(d) Nothing in this section limits any remedies available to a landlord or tenant under other provisions of this chapter, the rental agreement, or applicable statutory or common law.
The Vermont General Assembly
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