Water Submeter Standards


New Compliance Standards for Water Submeters

The first bill to be introduced this session that our Association will be heavily involved in is SB 7 (Wolk). For the fifth time in a row, a legislator will attempt to require all newly-constructed rental units to have water submeters and establish harsh penalties and expensive mandates for all owners of new and existing properties that have water submeters.

While we support the goal of water conservation and a requirement that each new dwelling be submetered or separately metered, SB 7, as proposed to be amended, does not provide just and reasonable practices for landlords.

Let’s look at the problems with the dozens of amendments to SB 7.

Landlords, like homeowners, are under an existing duty to retrofit their toilets, urinals, showerheads and interior faucets by 2019 under Civil Code Section 1101. Tenants, however, were never intended to have enforcement power or receive next to free rent for a property owner’s delay in compliance with this law... that is, until the introduction of SB 7.

Under the terms of the amendments to the bill, “all plumbing fixtures and fittings within each dwelling unit (are to) conform to all laws regarding habitability.” Habitability violations are well established in law. Thus, tenants may sue a landlord when hab itability violations allegedly occur and they may defend against unlawful detainers by alleging habitability violations. We submit that additional penalties are unwarranted.

The bill will propose that landlords will be under a 14-day duty to investigate and fix any condition “not limited to, a leak, a drip, a running toilet.” All of these terms are vague and overly broad and because the duty to fix is “not limited to” these situations, a floodgate of frivolous litigation could ensue.

Every city and county and over 1,000 water districts will be empowered to adopt more restrictive water conservation requirements and additional tenant protections. Conflicts will surely arise between the entities and the notion of changing longstanding landlord and tenant law is not merited. Proponents will argue that local control is necessary to fully implement the intent of SB 7.

The measure proposes to set price controls on a landlord’s actual administrative billing costs. It also establishes long grace periods for a tenant to pay for his or her water usage.

The public policy issues we will face are numerous. Your Association will do its best to meet those challenges.

New Transaction Taxes on Services (Including Rent Payments)

Senator Bob Hertzberg has just introduced SB 8; the purpose of the bill is to authorize government to impose a transactions tax on services, including rental payments. We will oppose the measure along with the business community.

Section 8 Voucher Payments

The Sacramento Bee recently ran an article about a Section 8 senior citizen receiving a notice to terminate a tenancy along with all of the other Section 8 tenants in one apartment building. Even though she paid her rent on time, it turns out that the Sacramento Housing Authority was not paying the landlord on time because the Authority decided that it would not pay a landlord if there was a problem with any Section 8 ten ant in the building. So we expect a member of the Legislature to introduce a bill to make it far more difficult for any landlord to terminate a Section 8 tenancy.

To add to the pain, we also expect another bill to be introduced that would require a landlord to accept a Section 8 applicant.

No Smoking

Assembly Member Levine reports that he will re-introduce a bill that will prohibit smoking tobacco products in multifamily properties. One of our greatest concerns with no smoking limitation or bans is not to make us the “smoking police.”

There will be over 100 bills and State regulatory matters affecting landlords and managers this year. Stay tuned!

Ron Kingston can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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