Direct Water Billing: Policy Issue

Overview

In the face of rising water costs, housing providers have increasingly moved to directly bill residents for water through either installing submeters or using Ratio Utility Billing Systems (RUBS). Utility regulators in some states and localities have attempted to curb the ability of apartment owners to engage in this practice, alleging it amounts to a resource's sale or resale. 

sink with water bill icon overlaid

NAA Position

States and localities should take care to exempt property owners when considering utility-related legislation or regulatory code changes that require or encourage direct water billing practices. Lawmakers should allow property owners to decide what type of direct water billing system works for them. 

As an Owner or Operator, How Does this Affect My Business?

State and local agencies have attempted to limit the ability of apartment providers to directly bill residents for water, arguing the practice amounts to the resource's sale or resale. Regulators frequently take issue with fees related to such billing programs, implying that property owners and third-party billing companies are unfairly profitting from the billing process.  However, any limitations on the two types of direct water billing would force owners to estimate water costs and include them in the cost of rent, leaving owners on the hook for increased use above that estimate. 

Contact Information

To learn more about this issue, please contact Ben Harrold, Manager of Public Policy at NAA.

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