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AB-1983 Water meters: multiunit structures.(2013-2014)

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CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1983


Introduced by Assembly Member Gray

February 19, 2014


An act to add Chapter 2.4 (commencing with Section 1954.12) to Title 5 of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, relating to residential units.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1983, as introduced, Gray. Water meters: multiunit structures.
The Water Measurement Law requires every water purveyor to require, as a condition of new water service on and after January 1, 1992, the installation of a water meter to measure water service. That law also requires urban water suppliers to install water meters on specified service connections, and to charge water users based on the actual volume of deliveries as measured by those water meters in accordance with a certain timetable.
Existing law generally regulates the hiring of dwelling units, and among other things, imposes certain requirements on landlords and tenants. Among these requirements, existing law requires landlords to provide tenants with certain notices or disclosures pertaining to, among other things, pest control and gas meters. On or before January 1, 2019, existing law requires all noncompliant plumbing fixtures in any multifamily residential real property, as defined, to be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures.
This bill would authorize the owner or operator of a building containing residential units to install equipment to determine or use an economic allocation methodology to approximate the quantity of water that is provided to the tenants and used in the common areas of that building. The bill would also authorize the owner or operator of a building to charge tenants separately for water and wastewater service based on usage as determined through the use of that equipment or allocation methodology if certain requirements are met, including that the owner or operator disclose certain information to the tenants as part of any contractual leasing agreement.
The bill would require all new multiunit residential buildings permitted on or after January 1, 2015, to be constructed in a manner to permit measurement by a county, municipal, or other public water system or the owner or operator of water use by each unit and to have installed separate submeters for each unit. The bill would require an owner or operator of a building subject to that construction requirement to seek reimbursement for water usage by the units based on a specified economic allocation methodology.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NO   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Chapter 2.4 (commencing with Section 1954.12) is added to Title 5 of Part 4 of Division 3 of the Civil Code, to read:
CHAPTER  2.4. Tenant Water Usage

1954.12.
 (a) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), the owner or operator of a building containing residential units may install equipment to determine or use an economic allocation methodology to approximate the quantity of water that is provided to the tenants and used in the common areas of that building, and the owner of that building may charge tenants separately for water and wastewater service based on usage as determined through the use of such equipment or allocation methodology.
(b) (1) Except as otherwise provided in subdivision (c), the owner or operator of a building containing residential units may charge tenants separately for water and wastewater service, provided that the total amount of the charges to the tenants for water and wastewater service shall not exceed the total charges and fees paid by the owner or operator to the utility company or municipality providing the water and wastewater service plus actual fees paid to a third-party billing service provider for establishing, servicing, processing payments, and billing such tenants.
(2) The third-party service provider fees and the submetering methodology or economic allocation methodology shall be disclosed to the tenants as part of any contractual leasing agreement.
(c) All new multiunit residential buildings permitted on or after January 1, 2015, shall be constructed in a manner that will permit the measurement by a county, municipal, or other public water system or by the owner or operator of water use by each unit and separate submeters shall be installed for each individual leased, rented, or other tenant space within each multifamily residential building.
(1)  This subdivision shall not apply to any building constructed or permitted prior to January 1, 2015, which is thereafter: (A) renovated or (B) following a casualty or condemnation, renovated or rebuilt.
(2) Subdivision (c) shall not apply to any construction of a building, the permit for which was granted prior to January 1, 2015.
(d) (1) The owner or operator of a building subject to subdivision (c) shall seek reimbursement for water and wastewater usage by the units through an economic allocation methodology which is based on the measured quantity of water used by each unit.
(2) The owner or operator of that building which includes common areas for the benefit of the units may also seek reimbursement for common area water and wastewater use through an economic allocation which approximates the portion of the common area water and wastewater services allocable to each unit.
(3) (A) The total amount of charges to the units under paragraphs (1) and (2) for water and wastewater shall not exceed the total charges and fees paid by the owner or operator to the utility company or municipality providing the water and wastewater service for the multiunit residential building, plus actual fees paid to a third-party billing service provider for establishing, servicing, processing payments, and billing tenants.
(B) The third-party service provider fees and the economic allocation methodology shall be disclosed to the tenants as part of any contractual leasing agreement.
(4) If a tenant notifies the owner or operator of a building subject to this subdivision, or the owner or operator otherwise becomes aware, of a condition that indicates a submeter reading indicating abnormally high water usage of more than 150 percent of that unit’s volumetric usage of the last three months, the owner or operator of the building shall investigate, and if warranted, rectify the condition within 60 days and shall not charge the tenant more than 80 percent billed for volumetric usage of the last three months for which complete billing information is available. The owner or operator shall disclose the adjustment on the bill.
(5) If a monthly submeter reading necessary to measure volumetric usage is unavailable for any reason, the owner or operator of a building subject to this subdivision may bill the tenant 80 percent of the average amount billed for volumetric usage for the last three months for which complete billing information is available, and may estimate for a period of up to three months while the submeter is being repaired. The landlord shall disclose the adjustment on the bill. If, after the three-month repair period, the submeter has not been repaired, the owner or operator of the building shall not bill the tenant until such repair is completed.
(e) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in subdivision (b) or (d), the water and wastewater charges for the last billing period of a tenant’s occupancy in a unit may be estimated by calculating the average of at least three months of charges for the water and wastewater allocated to the unit, and then prorating the average by dividing that average by the number of days in the billing period, and then multiplying that per diem charge by the number of days the tenant had possession of that unit since the last billing period ended, provided, that where available the owner or operator of the building shall use the actual submeter reading for the last month’s billing period.
(f) A county, municipal, or other public water system shall be prohibited from charging any fee or levy for the installation or use of privately owned meters or other devices which measure or assist in the measurement of water use under subdivision (c).
(g) Nothing in this section shall affect any local ordinances with stricter provisions than those set forth in this section if that ordinance was adopted prior to January 1, 2014.