Water Billing FAQ's
Posted by Government Affairs
on Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Recently, HAA has been asked to do an interview with a television station and has received phone call from residents regarding water billing.
If a renter has noticed an increase in water rates that started in the last several months and their property is in the City of Houston, they may be noticing the increase in rates that the City passed for multifamily properties in July .
The following questions and answers may also help renters to understand how they are billed for water, if water is allocated at their property (most common).
What are the rights of a resident to contest a water bill?
about the calculation of your bill are between the renter and the
property owner. The TCEQ recommends filing billing disputes in writing
with the person identified on your bill to contact about
disputes--usually the owner, the on-site manager, or a billing company.
The owner or designated person must then investigate the dispute and
report the results of the investigation to the renter in writing. The
investigation and report must be completed within 30 days from the date
the renter provides written notification.
a renter finds that a TCEQ rule has been violated, they may contact the
TCEQ to file a complaint.
TCEQ rules require that apartments keep the following records
available for residents to inspect at the onsite manager's office during
normal business hours:
a. A copy of the water allocation statute;
b. A copy of the TCEQ water allocation rules;
c. A copy of the water utility's current rate card (available from the utility company);
d. A checklist of ideas for water conservation in your dwelling;
e. Your water utility bills for the apartment community for the current month and the preceding 12 months;
f. Your records of rent income and water bill income from
residents, including the date and amount of each resident's payment of
rent and water bills for the current month and the preceding 12 months;
g. the following information relating to billing calculation in Section 291.122(e)(6) of the rules:
1. the formula, occupancy factors, if any, and percentages used to calculate resident bills;
2. the total number of occupants or equivalent occupants if the equivalent occupant ratio is used; and
3. the square footage of the resident's dwelling unit and the
total square footage of all units in the apartment community, used for
billing if dwelling unit size is used as part of the formula.
Also see question 1 for more information.
Can an apartment owner profit from an allocated water bill?
An apartment owner cannot profit from a water bill. In fact, in the
allocation formulas permitted by the TCEQ, common areas must be excluded
from the allocation to residents. A small percentage may be charged on
the water bill to cover the cost of administering the billing.
What are the criteria to divide the water bill among residents?
First, the allocation method must be laid out in the lease contract.
you agree by lease to pay separately for water, there are rules the
owner of your property must follow. If a property chooses to bill
residents directly for water, they can use a water allocation formula
that is set by the Texas Commission on Environment Quality
are several different formulas for water allocation which have been
approved under TCEQ rules. The rules provide that water can be allocated
under any one of five formulas, but no others. The TCEQ-approved
formulas are based on:
- actual occupancy;
- ratio occupancy (TCEQ formula for average number of occupants in unit);
- average occupancy (TCEQ formula for average number of bedrooms in unit);
- combination of actual occupancy and square feet of the apartment; or
- submetered hot/cold water, ratio to total.
owner cannot change the allocation formula during the lease term unless
the resident consents to the change in writing in a mid-lease term
agreement or in a lease renewal. Notice of the change must be given at
least 35 days prior to the change.
For more answers to commonly asked questions, visit the "Renter FAQs" page .