At the beginning of a residential lease the landlord and tenant will agree on who is paying the utilities. Often, some utilities are paid by the landlord and others are the responsibility of the tenant. The lease should spell out who is paying which utilities. Furthermore, per Cal.Civ.Code §1942.2, if the tenant makes a utility payment for electrical, gas, heat, or water service that is an obligation of the landlord, then the tenant may deduct the cost of the utility payment from the rent payment.

Shared Meter

Under California law there is a required disclosure by the landlord if a utility meter is shared between separate dwelling units. If the landlord does not provide separate gas and electric meters for each tenant’s dwelling unit then he must disclose this to the tenant prior to the start of the tenancy. At that point the landlord and tenant can reach a written agreement as to how the metered utilities will be apportioned to the tenant’s usage, including if the landlord will have the meter in his name. The bottom line is that any shared meter situation must be disclosed to the tenant.

San Francisco Minimum Heat Requirements

The City of San Francisco has a minimum heat requirement for apartment dwellings. Specifically, each occupied, habitable room in the dwelling must be capable of maintaining a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Centigrade) for 13 hours between 5am and 11am and 3pm and 10pm. In a building where the heating system is not under the tenant’s control a locking or tamper-proof temperature-sensing device must be used. This device must not be in the manager’s or owner’s unit (unless it is an owner occupied residential condominium). The device must also be able to cause the heating system to stop producing heat when the temperature exceeds 68 degrees F/20 degrees C.