If you live in the state of Massachusetts and you have a baby in your home, you may be protected against having your electricity shut off. This is especially true if you are also having financial troubles and the disconnection is due to past due bills. This protection is because the state of Massachusetts has laws in place to protect low income families with small children from disconnection. If you are a low-income parent with small children, it is in your best interest to know more about how this works.
Special Shut Off Protection for Families with Infants
Under Code of Massachusetts Regulations, an electric company cannot shut you off if you have a child living in your home that is under the age of 12 months. In order to obtain this special protection, you must submit a financial hardship form along with proof of your child's age.
Special Shut Off Winter Protection
Under Massachusetts General Laws, an electric company cannot shut you off from November 15th through March 15th, in the event you have an overdue bill because of financial hardship. However, this doesn't mean that your electric bills will stop since they will keep coming in every month as usual.
Your Rights During Termination Process
If the power company attempts to disconnect your service for non-payment, they have certain rules they must comply with in order to do so. One of the rules they must comply with is that if a company employee goes to your home to disconnect your service, they must check to see if you are home before doing so. If you are home, the employee is required to tell you that they are there to disconnect your service. Also, the employee is required to give you a notice describing all of the special termination protections.
If you fall under any of the protections, the employee cannot disconnect your service on that day and must give you three days to provide documentation for the protection. If you are not home, the employee can disconnect your service but must leave the special termination protection notice along with a hardship financial form under your door.
Filing a Complaint Against Electric Company
In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Utilities is responsible for regulating the utility companies in the state, including electric, gas, and water companies that are privately owned. The agency employs a staff of advocates that can help you in the event that your electric company does not comply with the laws and rules. Before contacting the agency, you must first contact your electric company to try and resolve the issue.
If you are a family with a baby in the home, it is important to understand the laws that are on your side when it comes to electricity disconnection. It is also important that you understand that you have rights when it comes to disconnections and what you can do if those rights are violated. For more information on your rights, contact a lawyer from a firm like Hawkins Bingham & Miller.