Conversion to submeter or pro rata billing for water
(1)A landlord may unilaterally amend a rental agreement as provided in this section to convert a tenant’s existing utility or service billing method for water or wastewater:
(a)From rent-included billing or pro rata billing to submeter billing; or
(b)From rent-included billing to pro rata billing.
(2)At least one month prior to installing submeters for a billing conversion under subsection (1)(a) of this section or prior to conversion to pro rata billing under subsection (1)(b) of this section, the landlord shall:
(a)Deliver to each tenant a written notice that describes:
(A)The landlord’s intention to convert the water billing method;
(B)The proposed new water and wastewater billing method;
(C)The reason for the conversion; and
(D)The process and schedule for the conversion, including the date, time and location of the meeting described in paragraph (c) of this subsection;
(b)Deliver to each tenant a copy of a handout developed by the Housing and Community Services Department that describes the laws regarding utility conversions and billing; and
(c)Meet with the tenants to explain the conversion and answer questions regarding utility and service billing and to distribute a sample utility and service charge statement with an explanation of each entry on the statement.
(3)The department shall prepare a handout described in subsection (2)(b) of this section in consultation with representatives of facility landlords and tenants.
(4)Intentionally left blank —Ed.
(a)If the landlord converts to submeter billing under this section, after the installation of the submeters and before the landlord may convert to submeter billing, the first three utility billing periods shall serve as a trial period during which the landlord shall give the tenant a mock-up example of the submeter billing for each billing period that shows what the tenant’s bill would be using submeter billing.
(b)Following the trial period described in paragraph (a) of this subsection, a landlord is not required to test the submeters for accuracy.
(5)If the landlord converts to pro rata billing under this section, after the conversion and no less frequently than every three years, the landlord shall:
(a)Conduct testing of every portion of any utility or service line for water that serves the common areas and up to the connection to the dwelling or home;
(b)Make the results of any testing available to the tenants; and
(c)Fix any leaks within a reasonable time and consistent with ORS 90.730 (Landlord duty to maintain rented space, vacant spaces and common areas in habitable condition).
(6)If the landlord converts from rent-included billing to pro rata billing or submeter billing under this section, the landlord shall reduce the tenant’s rent on a pro rata basis beginning with the landlord’s first billing of the tenant using pro rata billing or submeter billing by no less than an amount reasonably comparable to the amount of the rent previously allocated to the utility or service cost averaged over at least the 12-month period of available utility or service billings immediately preceding the first billing following the conversion. Before the landlord first bills the tenant using pro rata billing or submeter billing following the conversion, the landlord shall provide the tenant with written documentation from the utility or service provider showing the landlord’s cost for the utility or service provided to the facility during the 12-month period used to determine the rent reduction. A landlord may offset all or part of a rent reduction required by this subsection against a future rent increase provided in a fixed term rental agreement entered into prior to the delivery of the notice of conversion under subsection (2) of this section.
(7)A landlord that installs submeters under this section may recover from a tenant the cost of installing the submeters, including costs to improve or repair existing utility or service system infrastructure necessitated by the installation of the submeters, only as follows:
(a)By raising the rent, as with any capital expense in the facility, except that the landlord may not raise the rent for this purpose within the first six months after installation of the submeters; or
(b)In a manufactured dwelling park, by imposing a special assessment pursuant to a written special assessment plan adopted unilaterally by the landlord. The plan may include only the landlord’s actual costs to be recovered on a pro rata basis from each tenant with payments due no more frequently than monthly over a period of at least 60 months. Payments must be itemized as a separate charge from the utility or service charge. The landlord must give each tenant a copy of the plan at least 90 days before the first payment is due. Payments may not be due before the completion of the installation, and must begin within six months after completion. A new tenant of a space subject to the plan may be required to make payments under the plan. Payments must end when the plan ends. The landlord is not required to provide an accounting of plan payments made during or after the end of the plan.
(8)A landlord that converts to submeter billing from rent-included billing under this section may unilaterally, and at the same time as the conversion to submeters, convert the billing for common areas to pro rata billing by including the change in the notice required by subsection (2) of this section. If the landlord continues to use rent-included billing for common areas, the landlord may offset against the rent reduction required by subsection (6) of this section an amount that reflects the cost of serving the common areas. If the utility or service provider cannot provide an accurate cost for the service to the common areas, the landlord shall assume the cost of serving the common areas to be 20 percent of the total cost billed. This offset is not available if the landlord chooses to bill for the common areas using pro rata billing.
(9)If storm water service and wastewater service are not measured by the submeter, a landlord that installs submeters to measure water consumption and converts to submeter billing from rent-included billing under this section may continue to recover the cost of the storm water service or wastewater service in the rent or may unilaterally, and at the same time as the conversion to submeters, convert the billing for the storm water service or wastewater service to pro rata billing by including the change in the notice and meeting required by subsection (2) of this section. If the landlord converts the billing for the storm water service or wastewater service to pro rata billing, the landlord must reduce the rent to reflect that charge, as required by subsection (6) of this section.
(10)A rental agreement amended under this section must include language that fairly describes the provisions of this section.
(11)If a landlord installs a submeter on an existing utility or service line to a space or common area that is already served by that line, unless the installation causes a system upgrade, a local government may not assess a system development charge as defined in ORS 223.299 (Definitions for ORS 223.297 to 223.316) as a result of the installation. [Formerly 90.537]
Section 90.574 — Conversion to submeter or pro rata billing for water,