Hevesi bills would fix housing issues

Hevesi bills would fix housing issues
By Anna Gustafson

Queens residents living in rent-regulated apartments could soon receive more accurate energy bills and reductions in housing payments should the state Senate approve two bills recently passed by the state Assembly, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said.

The two pieces of legislation, both sponsored by Hevesi, would require the state Public Service Commission to inspect and regulate electric and gas meters in individual apartments and government officials to factor in sub-meter readings in rent reductions once every three years.

The PSC has only tested master meters instead of individual sub-meters in each apartment, and residents have had little recourse to handle sub-meters that are faulty or if they are overcharged, according to Hevesi, chairman of the Assembly Subcommittee on Renewable Energy.

“It will give tenants peace of mind knowing that their equipment has been tested and approved by the appropriate state agency and will protect against overcharges from faulty meters,” Hevesi said.

The second bill would require the New York Division of Housing and Community Renewal to factor in electricity from sub-meter readings when setting rent reduction rates once every three years.

The DHCR has recently encouraged owners of master-metered buildings to undergo major renovations to convert to individual metering, which transfers the responsibility for the cost of electricity consumption to the tenants. Because of this transference of cost, Hevesi said it was important to take the individual readings into account when setting rates.

“The Legislature must ensure that tenants are protected during the sub-metering process,” Hevesi said. “Requiring that the DHCR update the rent reduction schedule guarantees that tenants are protected and receive rent reductions based on current energy prices.”

Both bills have been handed over to the Senate and are currently being discussed in the Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

The Assembly also passed another bill sponsored by Hevesi last week that would require the state Research and Development Authority to undertake a statewide study of consumer behavior with respect to energy efficiency and clean energy technology programs.

Hevesi said the study would help assess whether state and local programs designed to improve energy efficiency are meeting their goals.

“This bill ensures that taxpayer money will go toward programs that help New York state become more energy efficient and environmentally sound,” Hevesi said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.