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  • NJ A1480
  • Permits water supply service and sewerage service sub-metering in multi-family dwellings to promote water conservation.
Introduced
(1/27/2016)
In Committee
(1/27/2016)
Crossed OverPassedSignedDead/Failed/Vetoed
2016-2017 Regular Session
This bill permits the sub-metering of water consumption in multi-family dwellings to promote water conservation. The bill permits the owner of any multi-family dwelling with three or more leased dwelling units to provide for sub-metering of each dwelling unit for the total or partial quantity of water consumed by the tenants. Tenants may be billed for water supply service or sewerage service, or both. The bill requires that the sub-meter or sub-meters installed for each dwelling unit measure the total or partial use of the water consumed in the dwelling unit, which amount would be multiplied by the applicable water supply service charges or sewerage service charges, or a calculation based on those rates, as charged by the utility or utilities servicing the multi-family dwelling. In no event would the tenants be charged more in total than the owner's total water supply service charges or sewerage service charges by the local government unit or water purveyor, as appropriate. In addition, the bill provides that in no event would a tenant be charged more in total than that tenant's measured total water service to the dwelling unit as measured by the metering device or devices in that tenant's dwelling unit. Any multi-family dwelling owner installing a sub-metering system must disclose this information in the lease to each tenant, and must include a description of the billing method used. The cost of the installation of the sub-meter cannot be passed on to the tenant. Bills sent to tenants must include the following items: (1) the opening and closing measurements; (2) a description of charges and billing method; and (3) the identification of the billing company, including a toll-free number and website for tenants to use for billing questions. The bill requires an owner to respond to any tenant's report of a leak in a plumbing line or fixture on the tenant's side of the sub-meter in a dwelling unit within 24 hours after the tenant reporting, verbally and in writing, the suspected leak to the owner. If the owner does not respond within this time period, and does not substantially complete the necessary repair work within one week, the bill provides that the tenant shall receive a credit from the owner in an amount equal to the bill for water supply service or sewerage service, or both, as appropriate, in the monthly billing cycle when the leak was identified less the lowest water bill from the three prior months. The bill provides that all water supply service charges or sewerage service charges relating to sub-metering would be exempted from any local rent control ordinance governing allowable increases. The bill includes, in subsection h. of section 4 of the bill, a process for the resolution of billing disputes. The bill also includes, in subsection i of section 4 of the bill, meter testing procedures and provides for a credit to be issued to a tenant if a meter is not within the accepted accuracy standards as set forth in the bill. Sub-metering technology may be installed at any time during the tenancy, and sub-metering billing shall be permitted immediately upon the date of enactment of this bill into law, except as follows: (1) Billing for a dwelling unit occupied by a tenant in a multi-family dwelling that is not subject to rent control or that is subject to rent control whenever the ordinance allows for water supply service charges or sewerage service charges, or both, as appropriate, to be "passed through" to the tenant shall not commence until the renewal date of the lease, and provided that statements for six billing cycles shall have been sent to the tenant by the owner, or the owner's billing company, without charge for six consecutive months, informing the tenant what the water supply service charges or sewerage service charges and administrative fees would have been had the tenant been receiving actual bills; or (2) Billing for a dwelling unit occupied by a tenant in a multi-family dwelling that is subject to rent control shall not commence until the renewal date of the lease, and provided that statements for six billing cycles shall have been sent to the tenant by the owner, or the owner's billing company, without charge for six consecutive months, informing the tenant what the water supply service charges or sewerage service charges and administrative fees would have been had the tenant been receiving actual bills. At the initial lease renewal when sub-metering is initiated, the owner of each multi-family dwelling subject to rent control shall give each tenant a one-time rent reduction pursuant to a formula required by the bill that provides tenants with a rent reduction, for the term of the initial lease when sub-metering is initiated, equal to the anticipated monthly charge for the water supply service charges or sewerage service charges, or both, as appropriate. After this reduction in rent, the owner shall be entitled to the normal rent increase allowed by the applicable rent control ordinance, provided that the rent increase is based on the amount of the reduced rent. The bill requires an owner of a multi-family dwelling constructed prior to January 1, 1994 that uses sub-metering to implement a water savings program in each sub-metered dwelling unit. The water savings program requires that before sub-metering billing commences at the multi-family dwelling: (1) the owner's property management staff conduct a visual inspection for leaking fixtures on the tenant's side of the sub-meter in each dwelling unit at the multi-family dwelling; and (2) the owner install or have previously installed in each shower within each sub-metered dwelling unit a low-flow shower fixture that does not exceed 2.5 gallons per minute. In addition, the water savings program requires, within two years after the date that sub-metering billing commences at the multi-family dwelling, that the owner install or have previously installed in each bathroom within each sub-metered dwelling unit a toilet that does not exceed 3.5 gallons per flush. The bill allows an owner who, prior to the date of enactment of this bill into law, uses sub-metering and bills tenants subject to a written agreement with the tenant that recognizes the owner's right to bill the tenant for water supply service or sewerage service, or both, to continue sub-metering and billing tenants without complying with the requirements of subsections j. and k. of section 4 of the bill. Lastly, the bill requires the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), in consultation with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, to adopt rules and regulations to implement the provisions of the bill. The bill requires these rules and regulations to: (1) include a formula as required pursuant to paragraph (2) of subsection j. of section 4 of the bill providing a rent reduction, for the term of the initial lease renewal when sub-metering is initiated, equal to the anticipated monthly charge for the water supply service charges or sewerage service charges, or both, as appropriate; (2) require periodic inspections of sub-meters installed pursuant to this act to ensure that the sub-meters accurately measure the water consumed in the dwelling unit; and (3) provide a process for a tenant to appeal water supply service charges or sewerage service charges, or both, as appropriate, in the case of overcharges by the owner.
Environment and Solid Waste
Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee  (on 1/27/2016)
 
 

Date Chamber Action Description
1/27/2016 A Introduced, Referred to Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee
Date Motion Yea Nay Other
None specified