I recently hired an electrician to come out to my apt. and verify that I have been charged for foreign load (LL had been giving me the bills, and I reimbursed him in full). My lease does not state that I pay for anything outside of my own apt., but now I know for sure that I have been doing so and I have tons of proof. If I take the landlord to court to recover what I paid, how much am I entitled to under the law? I understand that in some states, the person who has been paying for the foreign load is entitled to 3 times the total amount of the bills. However, while I have read that foreign load is also illegal in PA, I have read nothing concerning what one can expect to recover for it in a PA court. Should I expect THE AMOUNT I PAID, OR DOUBLE, OR TRIPLE? Thank you.
Here's a case addressing your question:
Also, according to http://dornish.net/a-change-in-the-interpretatation-of-1529-1-of-the-public-utility-code-beneficial-to-landlords,
Mary M. Sobota v. Equitable Gas Company, Docket No. C-00981661, 1999 Pa. PUC LEXIS 67 (October 18, 1999) addresses the interpretation of the applicable statute.
According to http://dornish.net/a-change-in-the-interpretatation-of-1529-1-of-the-public-utility-code-beneficial-to-landlords:
"In a recent case, the Public Utility Commission held that the landlord was still responsible for the usage starting from the discovery of the foreign load until it was certified to be corrected, but as far as the past usage was concerned, the landlord could file a complaint in order to be responsible only for the service actually generated by the foreign load. See Afshari v. PPL Electric Utilities Corporation, Docket No. C-20055547 (April 9, 2008).
The reasoning in the Afshari case was that §1529.1(b) does not specifically state the responsibility for payment of any unpaid balance for usage prior to the discovery of the foreign load, but does state that once discovered, “the owner shall thereafter be responsible for the payment of the utility services rendered thereunto.” Finally taking note of the word “thereafter,” the Commission reasoned it was not the legislative intent to make the owner responsible for the entire balance due on the account.
The new procedure, as laid out in Afshari, sets out the following: (1) the utility will list the tenant’s account with the property owner when the foreign load is detected; (2) the property owner will pay future bills for service to the tenant’s premises until the foreign load is removed; and (3) the property owner may, at his or her own discretion, file a complaint to contest the assignment of the full, past due balance, as opposed to a lesser amount attributable to a foreign load.
Afshari further notes that the landlord will have the burden of proof to show what portion of the bill was due to foreign load, which could be a very complicated calculation and a bit of a guessing game of whether the foreign load was used and at what frequency. "
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