Saturday, February 13, 2010

LIHEAP - sec. 8 - rent included heat - rent as fixed % of income

Sweetman v. DPW - December 15, 2009 - unpublished memorandum opinion

Applicant found to be not eligible for LIHEAP under 55 Pa. Code § 601.31(2)(i)(B), which provides that renters whose heating cost is included as an undesignated portion of rent and whose rent is based on a fixed income percentage are ineligible for LIHEAP benefits.

If the applicant directly paid a vendor for the main source of his heat or paid indirectly for heat, but not as a fixed percentage of his income, he would be eligible for LIHEAP cash benefits. In the present matter, Petitioner does not pay directly for his heat, but pays for his heat as part of his rent, which is a fixed percentage of his income.

Applicant testified and argued that his landlord did not provide sufficient heat and that he had to use electric space heaters to supplement the primary heat, which was natural gas. Although the applicant argued that his space heaters are the “main” source of heat, sec. 601.3 of the regulations provides that the “main” fuel type is the source of energy for the central heating system of the residence, or if the residence is not centrally heated, the source of energy used most by the household. 55 Pa. Code § 601.3.

DPW found that the main fuel type is natural gas and that applicant did not establish that electricity, as the source used to supply space heaters, is the “main” fuel type for applicant's home. "Therefore, we cannot say that DPW/BHA or the ALJ erred in concluding that Petitioner was ineligible for LIHEAP benefits."