California Submetering: Understanding Senate Bill 7
In a previous posting, we presented an overview of California submetering legislation, specifically, California Senate Bill 7. In this week’s installment, we will look at some important details of the legislation.
SB 7, which took effect on January 1, 2018, can be summarized as follows:
As stated in the bill, the intent of the legislation is twofold:
(a) To encourage the conservation of water in multifamily residential rental buildings through means either within the landlord's or the tenant's control.
(b) To establish that the practices involving the submetering of dwelling units for water service are just and reasonable and include appropriate safeguards for both tenants and landlords.
Weights & Measures
The legislation requires that all submeters installed in the state must first be shipped to the California Department of Weights and Measures for testing and approval. The company submitting meters for approval must also be a licensed agent of Weights & Measures. Guardian Water & Power's Weights & Measures service agency registration is #3707.
The legislation “shall establish tolerances and specifications and other technical requirements for commercial … measuring” of water consumption in multifamily submetered properties. The legislation also adopts the latest standards as recommended by the National Conference on Weights and Measures.
Utility Billing Standards
Billing standards enumerated in the legislation are comprehensive and exacting. These standards include the following:
a) At the beginning of a tenancy, a submeter shall be read after the tenant takes possession. If the regular reading occurs less than five days prior to the tenant taking possession, that reading may be substituted to establish usage. If the submeter is manually read, the first bill may be estimated based on the rate established in subdivision (b) of Section 1954.212 .
(b) For a water-service bill at the end of a tenancy, the submeter shall be read within five days, if possible. If the submeter cannot be read within five days at the end of a tenancy, the bill amount for the final month shall be based on the bill amount for the previous month.
(c) At the landlords discretion, deduct an unpaid water service bill from the security deposit during or upon termination of a tenancy.
(d) Maintain and make available in writing, at the tenant's written or electronic request, within seven days after the request:
The date the submeter was last inspected, tested, and verified, and the date by which it shall be reinspected, tested, and verified under law, if available.
The most recent water bill for the property's master water meter showing the recurring fixed charge for water service billed to the property by the water purveyor, and the usage charges for the property, including any tiered amounts.
Any other bills for water service, as defined in subdivision (h) of Section 1954.202 , for the property.
The number of dwelling units in the property used in the last billing period to calculate the tenant's water service charges.
If not shown on the bill for the property, the per unit charges for volumetric water usage, including any tiered amounts.
The formula used to calculate the charge for the tenant's volumetric water usage.
Submeters used to separately bill tenants for water service shall satisfy each of the following requirements:
The submeter shall be inspected, tested, and verified for commercial purposes pursuant to law, including, but not limited to, Section 12500.5 of the Business and Professions Code .
The submeter shall conform to all laws regarding installation, maintenance, repair, and use, including, but not limited to, regulations established pursuant to Section 12107 of the Business and Professions Code .
The submeter shall measure only water that is supplied for the exclusive use of the particular dwelling unit, and only to an area within the exclusive possession and control of the tenant of the dwelling unit.
The submeter shall be capable of being accessed and read by the tenant of the dwelling unit and read by the landlord without entering the dwelling unit. A submeter installed before January 1, 2018, may be read by the landlord after entry into the unit, in accordance with this chapter and Section 1954 .
The submeter shall be re-inspected and re-calibrated within the time limits specified in law or regulation.
Please see all sections of the California Civil Code to ensure compliance or contact Guardian Water & Power at (877) 291-3141.