I have a continuation service agreement with the gas company and they neglected to notify me that they had discontinued the tenants gas service in April of 2017 for nonpayment. They also neglected to notify when the service was re-connected on January 5, 2018. If I had known, then I would have made sure that I was present when the company was re-lighting the appliances and checking for leaks.

The gas company neglected to notify me that the tenant requested that the gas supply to the hot water tank remain shut off once the technician re-light the tank and tested for leaks. The tech complied with the tenant who does not own the appliances, and did not bother to contact me, the owner, of the request. If I was present, I would have said absolutely not to the tenants request. None of the appliances were red tag on 1/5/2018, so I was not notified.

May I remind everyone that most of the states in the US, including my state PA, were experiencing temperatures well below zero from mid December 2017 to after January 5, 2018. On January 5, 2018, the gas is turned back on after 10 months, appliances are relight and checked, nothing is red tagged, the tenant has gas supply shut off to stove and hot water tank, and then shuts off the main water valve.

On January, 6 2018, I get a phone call from another tenant in the building that they are without heat and noticed basement flooded and iced over due to several water pipes leaking. The basement was extremely cold because the tenant who just had his gas turned on had closed the basement damper to his furnace.

Luckily for the innocent by-stander tenant, his hot water tank which serves a dual purpose was not damaged by the ice covering it, since it was turned on. However, the tenant who requested that the gas supply to his hot water tank remain shut off was damaged by the ice covering and extreme water pressure build up in line once water was turned back on. Needless to say, the hot water tank had to be replaced and several waterline pipes and basement sop basin faucet had to be repaired.

Is the company liable for neglecting to inform me?

May I also add that the tenant was using a space heater to keep himself warm during the freezing outside temperatures when he had no gas service. In addition, the space heater was drawing too much amperage and had melted the electrical outlet. He is lucky that he did not cause a fire by doing that. He may have killed himself, and others living in the building, in a fire.

  • There is no reason to assume they must (or should, or even can) notify and inform you.
    – Nij
    Jan 21 '18 at 23:06
  • 3
    "In addition, the space heater was drawing too much amperage and had melted the electrical outlet." That sounds like an extremely unsafe electrical system. Do you not have circuit breakers? "He may have killed himself, and others living in the building, in a fire." If that is a concern you have, perhaps you should improve your building's fire safety system. Jan 22 '18 at 18:28

It could depend in part what that agreement says. This agreement, which is not your agreement, simply says that you will pay the bill between time of termination and transfer, and allows for termination for non-payment. But it is highly unlikely that the language of your agreement would be substantially different from that sample. Otherwise, the gas company has (had) a duty to the tenants, and not you. The various rights and responsibilities are between the utility and the customer, and while there are limitations on shut offs, there aren't any restrictions pertaining to turn ons. Under section 2207 of the Gas Competition Act, the supplier is obligated to provide service. 52 Pa. Code Ch. 56 spells out the law regarding restoration of service, mandating that service be restored in a manner prescribed by law – which does not include landlord approval or any other intervention by the landlord. The states R&R booklet articulates a "right to personal privacy", which could be interpreted in an abundance of caution as a requirement to not disclose information to third parties. This privacy policy does not indicate that "your request for service is subject to landlord notification", and could reasonably be interpreted as saying that they will not notify the landlord. (Moreover, there is no legal basis that I can see for you denying a tenant's request to have the gas turned on).

While the gas company was not negligent in turning on the gas, the tenant may have been negligent in turning it off. It is well-known common sense in the frozen zone that you don't turn off the heat and you do leave a trickle of water running to prevent freezing, but I don't know if neglecting to use that variety of common sense makes one liable under Pennsylvania law.

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