Possible illegal gas hook up??

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I purchased property from bank in 2011 January. At that time, gas line was turned off. I asked local gas company to turn on the gas after setting up account.
Fast forward 2016, I had to evict the tenant who didn't pay rent. Same tenant didn't pay utility bills either. Gas company called today to turn off gas meter (which will be turned on to new tenant name once they set up account). Upon turning off gas line, service person realized that it will turn off gas to next door neighbor (Shared wall, Duplex houses). 
Gas company called back to ask following questions

  1. Do I own next door property? Answer: No.
  2. Am I aware of this gas line going out to neighbor: Answer No.

    Gas company called back after half an hour again and set up appointment to meet me at property on Monday. As per them, the neighbor hook up may have done illegally. On the side note, next door neighbor owned our property before it was foreclosed by bank.


Now, it seems that for the five plus years, they were stealing gas from my tenants and I ( Property was empty for few months). What will happen here? I tried to google up but didn't come up with any concrete answers.
Thanks

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A couple of years ago there was a thread about a duplex owned by 2 different people and about a shared utility line. I ... (more)

oppidum (Aug. 01, 2016 @ 4:45p) |

So, what happened, OP?

ZenNUTS (Aug. 01, 2016 @ 5:13p) |

Gas explosion. Problem solved.

jaytrader (Aug. 02, 2016 @ 8:17a) |

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Be happy there wasn't an explosion?

Depends on whether the gas co want to get involved (beside disconnecting them) to bill them via estimated usage.

if not, send them a demand letter with estimated usage and if that doesn't work, small-claim.

uh, wait a minute, this is a duplex but you don't own the other unit?!

Edit: Deleted do to bad advice given (limited reading comprehension, I have).

SummerSoFar said:   Time to lawyer up, as I would assume this will all fall on you as the prop owner.
Isn't he the victim?

Edit: Deleted do to bad advice given (limited reading comprehension, I have).

You're sure this connection wasn't like that when you purchased the property? Seems like it was a reasonable setup back when a single entity owned both halves of the building.

Does the other side have its own meter that's just not being used? If not, perhaps nobody bothered to split that service; you and your tenants never noticed and the owner of the other half certainly had no incentive to bring it to your attention.

What gas appliances does the other side have?
 

SummerSoFar said:   Sure. But the gas company isn't going to care if there has been theft of their services.
  The way I understand it, the next door neighbor didn't steal from the gas company, but stole from the OP and the OP's tenants.  All the gas usage from the neighbor was billed to the OP (and tenants) 

SummerSoFar said:   Time to lawyer up, as I would assume this will all fall on you as the prop owner.
wtf? OP do not do this, obviously.

Does the other unit have its own gas meter?

nm

Was the neighboring property vacant when you bought the property and subsequently had the gas turned on?  Are the occupants renters, or do they own the property?

It is entirely possible that the gas line has been that way since the building was constructed or when the gas line was initially installed, and the tenant moved in thinking that gas must be included since they never received a bill.  Make a deal with the owner to pay for the installation of the additional service (in return for all the free gas they've been getting).  After all, it might be just as much your responsibility to pay for the proper connections as it is theirs. 

halterk said:   
SummerSoFar said:   Sure. But the gas company isn't going to care if there has been theft of their services.
  The way I understand it, the next door neighbor didn't steal from the gas company, but stole from the OP and the OP's tenants.  All the gas usage from the neighbor was billed to the OP (and tenants) 

  
OP will need to clarify what side of the neighbors meter the illegal hookup occurred at. And it is still may be considered theft of service in either case as use/line/franchise fees were never collected on both residences. 

Edit: Good god. I now finally comprehend what the OP was saying, and I was backwards. Going to lay off the commentary for the rest of the day.

Well, maybe OP doesn't even really own the 1/2 of the duplex, he just think he does.

On the side note, next door neighbor owned our property before it was foreclosed by bank.

Uh, what?! So someone owned a duplex and 1/2 of it got foreclosed?!

You're sure this connection wasn't like that when you purchased the property? Seems like it was a reasonable setup back when a single entity owned both halves of the building.

Yes. That's the case. Owner of the second unit is same for number of years. He has main line coming from this unit and most likely he was paying $0 bill. Not sure, but if I am paying $0 bill 5+ years, I would notify utility to check. It would be considered theft most likely if one doesn't do that.

Does the other unit have its own gas meter?

We don't know.

OP will need to clarify what side of the neighbors meter the illegal hookup occurred at. And it is still may be considered theft of service in either case as use/line/franchise fees were never collected on both residences. 

Neighbor had connected to our main line. Meter is on our side. We (Tenants & I ) ended up footing bill for the neighbor (most likely). 

Maybe that's why the tenant is behind on his payments.  He's been paying 2x the gas bill.

It sounds like the tenant could file suit if he ever found out.

Have the gas company install a 2nd meter and bill the other owner for the installation cost..  The other owner may need to obtain a permit.

Not sure if you should try to correct past billing errors.  Your tenant stands to gain if you do since he paid.

Hopefully you have landlord liability coverage to protect you from any possible legal issues from the tenants. 

Uh, what?! So someone owned a duplex and 1/2 of it got foreclosed?!

Yes. In our state, one can own half of the duplex. Thanks
 

People own 1/2 of duplexes here also. Not sure why.

Guys it's called a condo, this is not that weird of a situation, just smaller than usual

juliox said:   Guys it's called a condo, this is not that weird of a situation, just smaller than usual
  Or townhouse...?

This thread fascinates me. Sorry for the trouble though, OP.

juliox said:   Guys it's called a condo, this is not that weird of a situation, just smaller than usual
  I take your word for it.  I wonder how it works though.  What happens when you need the roof replaced or the exterior painted?

You have a condo association of two members, basically.  When you have a deadbeat neighbor like the OP, sounds like a great situation.

What's your goal, op?

Do you want it fixed with as little hassle ad possible? Do you want to try to recover as much money as possible? Or possibly stick it to the freeloader?

No right to wrong answer far as I care but knowing what you want is the best way to try to get it.

scrouds said:   What's your goal, op?

Do you want it fixed with as little hassle ad possible? Do you want to try to recover as much money as possible? Or possibly stick it to the freeloader?

No right to wrong answer far as I care but knowing what you want is the best way to try to get it.

If you don't have the place rented by December, I'd cut the gas off for a week a few days before Christmas. Even if you do have it rented it would be worth sending the tenants to a nice motel for a week so you can shut the gas off. But then I wouldn't be surprised if some law would allow the freeloader to sue you even though you have no business relationship to them.

juliox said:   Guys it's called a condo, this is not that weird of a situation, just smaller than usual
We've had this discussion here on FW before.  Conventions and terms vary greatly across the country.  In some areas, an arrangement such as the OP's would most definitely be "weird."

OP - if this unit was originally owned in its entirety by a single owner and later divided into separate parcels, I would be concerned about other issues that may be clouding the title or otherwise affecting the property value.  Is construction up to code for multifamily with appropriate firewalls and other considerations?  Do covenants exist with provisions for insurance and replacement of roof or remediation of major structural issues?  Do you share a driveway or other easements?  Are other utilities provided correctly?  Are sewage lines connected?  This gas issue might just be the beginning.
 

It could simply be an "undocumented gas hook up"; let us not jump to conclusions.

no bueno

And the heat in either duplex is????

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/03/26/nyregion/the-four-... hopefully this is a legal hookup. Illegal hookups like this and many others in NYC cause death and injuries. Maybe you were lucky all these years, like this building was until the big day. I would have the local utility install a second meter and be done with it.


Contact a Lawyer! I'm not recommending you retain counsel at this point but talk to them. It does not have to be expensive and may even be free. NO ONE HERE COULD POSSIBLY GIVE ANY OTHER GOOD ADVICE WITH THE FACTS YOU HAVE PRESENTED US. We don't know where your property is located. We don't know what regulations could be involved. County to county and state to state many laws differ. You could also be violating buildings codes for all we know. Either you didn't do due diligence when you bought the property or someone messed with it. What I do know is the landlord ends up being the scapegoat in the news more often then the tenant.

You could be liable to the state, the gas company, previous tenants, Civil, criminal, ect... I would not even discuss it further with the gas company until i at least talked to counsel. You are creating a paper trail that can be used against you in a court of law.


due dil·i·gencenounLawnoun: due diligence reasonable steps taken by a person in order to satisfy a legal requirement, especially in buying or selling something.

The people who are living did not even notice that their gas bill was higher than usual?

knittingpotholders said:   The people who are living did not even notice that their gas bill was higher than usual?
  
If the OP's gas service was always feeding the other unit, (which may not have ever had its own gas service) how would the people know what a "usual' bill should be?  

Depends on how much they 'stole' (That's a harsh word).

Less than $1000? (Over 5 years). You might spend more than that in Lawyer fees just to sue and they could possibly win with 'we didn't know' defense.
More? Well, then you bill them then sue.

Otherwise, just have the Gas Company shut it down and let your neighbor pay for their own meter install.

I am not a lawyer, but this is what I would do...

You say the unit you own was owned by the adjacent units present owner. You then purchased it after it went into foreclosure, correct? Did you have a home inspection done before purchase? If so, I would look at it to make sure the gas wasn't recorded as a shared line.

My next question would be how did either unit get a CO with this setup?

The trick is going to be what the other party is going to say... it could be they will come back to say "well it was my hookup but someone took it over and we never bothered" or play dumb in some other way...

I would have the gas company put in another meter and be done with it... given history it looks like you might never get your money out of these guys.

DaCheeze said:   
My next question would be how did either unit get a CO with this setup?

 

  
Whats a CO?  

 

certificate of occupancy. Its the sheet of paper that says a home has been built to code and you can now move in.

jaytrader said:   
juliox said:   Guys it's called a condo, this is not that weird of a situation, just smaller than usual
  Or townhouse...?

This thread fascinates me. Sorry for the trouble though, OP.

  It is called TWIN HOUSE - with a common wall, each side has its own deed; there's no HOA or fees.

Skipping 32 Messages...
ZenNUTS said:   So, what happened, OP?
  Gas explosion. Problem solved.



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