Learning, Concepts of Electricity,

Am I Paying for My Neighbors Electricity?

Are you getting a very high electricity bill every month? If so, you might be paying your neighbor’s electricity bill without knowing. Some people might carry on paying their neighbor’s electricity bill for years. Luckily, you don’t have to be so generous. I have worked as an electrician for over ten years, and today I’ll give you some valuable tips to discover if this is happening to you.

Follow These Methods to Determine if You Are Paying a Higher Electricity Bill than Required.

  • Ask Your Landlord Whether You Are Using a Shared Meter or Not.
  • Turn Off Every Device that Consumes Electricity in Your Apartment (inside and Outside) and Check the Meter. It Shouldn’t Be Running.
  • Or Check the Shared Meter with The Help of A Professional Company. 
  • Contact the Electric Service Provider (utility Company) and Take Legal Action. 

I’ll give a detailed explanation of each in the below article.

How Do You Confirm Whether or Not You Are Paying the Neighbor’s Electricity Bill?

As a renter, you should pay for your own gas and electricity usage. But what happens if the first electricity bill you get is very high? It may not be your fault!

You won’t be surprised if you are familiar with the shared meter concept. Sometimes, the landlord might inform you about this. And sometimes, he won’t.

Here’s a simple explanation of shared meters.

What is a Shared Meter?

electric meter
Video | EQDruid

A shared meter can be categorized as a utility meter measuring steam, natural gas, or electricity use inside and outside your home, which is also connected to your neighbor. In this case, you might have shared an electricity meter at your apartment and you might be paying for more electricity than you are using.

For instance, your meter measures electricity which goes to the next apartment. Consequently, you’ll also pay your neighbor’s electricity bill without knowing.

Signs of a Shared Meter

If you detect any of these signs, it could be because of a shared meter.

  • You Suddenly Get Much Higher Energy Bills than Usual.
  • Obvious Meter Tampering.
  • Unusual Wiring Inside the Meter or Your Apartment.
  • Sparks and Shocks, Even for Low-Load Electrical Devices.

Shared Meter Law

The shared meter law is designed to eliminate problems with shared meters and provides clear guidelines if a shared meter exists. This law applies to all New York residential rental unit tenants and owners. And if any third party is involved, they should follow the law too.

Here Are Some Need-To-Know Points of Shared Meter Law.

  • If the tenant was under a rental or lease agreement on or before October 24, 1991, there is no need to fix the shared meter.
  • If the landlord and tenant agree to share the cost of the energy bill, the above law won’t affect them.
  • If installing a separate meter costs a very large amount, as defined by the Public Service Commission, the law won’t affect it.

Therefore, the shared meter law won’t apply if you are under one or more above conditions.

What Can You Do to Confirm that You Use a Shared Meter?

You can do a few things when you doubt you are paying more for electricity than you use.

Ask Your Landlord

The first thing you should do is ask your landlord. Ask him if your apartment shares a meter with another apartment in the building. Most of the time, the landlord might know this sort of thing. If the landlord is honest, he will tell you the truth. However, if you feel the landlord is hiding something, follow the method below to confirm the shared meter issue.

Check the Meter

This simple method can verify you aren’t using a shared meter.

Follow these steps:

  1. First, turn off all the electrical devices in your apartment. This includes inside and outside devices.
  2. Now, go to the meter and check the dial or the reading for a few minutes.
  3. When you turn off all the devices, the meter should not be running. If it is, that means you are using a shared meter.

Quick Tip: Remember to turn off every electrical device in your home, such as light fixtures, fans, chargers, computers, air conditioning, and TVs.

What to Do After I Find Out About the Shared Meter?

You should do one thing. Provide written notice to the landlord notifying that you have found evidence of a shared meter at your apartment and ask the landlord to fix it as soon as possible.

The landlord must fix the shared meter issue within 120 days. If he doesn’t, you can make a record in the landlord’s name and charge him for all the future & past additional electricity costs. If you are uncomfortable with this type of thing, remember to get legal advice from a professional.

Are There Professional Services for Checking Shared Meters?

There are lots of professional service providers that can check the shared meter situation in your apartment. You can carry on the process anonymously until you get concrete evidence. 

Most of these services are just simple electricians with the tools to check your meters and ensure everything is running smoothly.

What Should I Do If the Landlord/Owner Refuses to Fix the Shared Meter?

If the landlord refuses to fix the shared meter or doesn’t take you seriously, you might have to take legal action. First, gather all the shared meter evidence, including the electrical bill statements from the electric utility company (electric service provider). Then, meet your lawyer and take the necessary legal action.

Quick Tip: Never start a legal fight without proper evidence. 

It might be best to resolve the issue by talking to the landlord and other parties involved. Maybe all of this is just a big mistake by the landlord.

Is Shared Meter Real Issue?

Yes, indeed. A shared meter is a real issue in most states in the US. If you can do a little research, you will find many stories of people with this shared meter problem. Some people go on with their life for years without knowing it. That means they paid their neighbors’ electricity bills for years.

As I said at the beginning, you don’t have to be that generous. Take the necessary action if you feel like you are paying for more than you use. Ask the owner to fix any issue (including your last electrical bill payments) if any issue is found. If needed, don’t hesitate to take legal action too. But confirm the shared meter issue first.

Take a look at some of our related articles below.

Video References

Wall Street Journal


Allterra Solar

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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