Multitenant water use regulations need review


By V.M. Askey

Resident, Del Mar

I write this in hopes of initiating local legislation that would require landlords to install separate water meters if they choose to bill multi-unit tenants for water usage.

There are numerous examples of legislation across the nation in recent years banning the practice of water bills on a pro-rata share. This has been enacted to insure fairness to renters so that they cannot be billed for water, which they do not use.

There are currently multiunit renters in Del Mar that are being billed for water usage on a pro-rata share. In this scenario, there is no way to determine the fairness to tenants in billing them for their individual water use. There is no consideration for multiunit renters who may not be residing in their leasehold property fulltime, or may be out of town for considerable periods of time. These renters are billed for water they do not use.

There is no accounting of the water bill provided to the tenants, just a water bill determined by the landlord. There is no documentation of what the landlord is billed by the city, or a reconciliation of the “pro-rata share formula.” They may even charge an administration fee for doing so. Nobody knows but the landlord.

In addition, there are apartment complexes in Del Mar that charge some tenants for pro-rata share of water, while other tenants in the same complex are not charged for any water usage. Perhaps the landlord is taking the liberty to negotiate different deals with each tenant?

Renters have separate meters for San Diego Gas & Electric Co. Why should it be any different for water?

In conclusion, landlords who want to bill their tenants for water should be required to install water sub-meters. There needs to be a law banning water bills on a pro-rata share. There is no other fair way.

The obvious solution that would be less expensive to the landlords than installing sub-meters would be for them to simply charge a higher lease rate that would offset their desire to back-bill water usage that cannot be determined fairly to the tenants.