Changes to Water Billing Rules Effective September 1st
by Michelle N. on 8/29/2014 6:30:40 AM
PUC takes over authority for water billing effective September 1
Full rules must be attached to leases as of that date
As of September 1, 2014 the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) will take over regulatory authority of water submetering and allocation from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). For most owners and residents at properties that are currently billing residents for water, the transition should be fairly seamless.
With one important exception regarding attachments to leases, the Public Utility Commission rules are substantively the same as the previous TCEQ rules. The only significant change is that rental property owners previously have had the option of either attaching a copy of the water billing rules or a summary of the rules that had been prepared by TCEQ. The PUC does not currently allow use of a rules summary and any new leases entered after September 1 must have an entire copy of the new water billing rules attached. There are no specific rules regulating font size or formatting of the rules attachment, however, from a common-sense perspective owners should ensure that the document is readable. One other rule change corrects an issue that had previously been unclear. Owners who submeter and who charge an administrative fee must clearly state that fee on the addendum. This is consistent with advice TAA previously provided. Note that properties that allocate water bills cannot charge an administrative fee.
TAA has prepared a formatted version of the full submetering and allocation rules that is available through the TAA Click & Lease program when printing the Water Submetering Addendum. Those members not using TAA Click & Lease can click here for a copy of the rules formatted to be used as an attachment to leases.
In addition, any property that institutes a water billing system beginning September 1, 2014 will register with the PUC instead of TCEQ. The form is almost identical to the previous TCEQ version and can be accessed here.
The new PUC rules, the Lease Addendum for Allocating Water/Wastewater Costs and the Water Submetering Addendum, and all related articles are currently being updated in the TAA REDBOOK Online, as well.
The PUC’s web pages on this topic will go live on September 1, and TAA will make that link available to members.
During a transition period between September 1, 2014 and September 1, 2015, anyone who visits the prior TCEQ web page for water submetering and water allocation will be redirected to the PUC website. In addition, PUC staff has indicated that the agency will take a cooperative approach during the transition and work with owners to make sure properties are in compliance with the new rules.
It is anticipated that there will be additional rule changes governing water billing over the next year as the PUC looks to integrate the rules more closely into existing agency regulations. TAA is maintaining close communications with agency staff during the transition and will be participating in any rulemaking on this topic. Property owners or managers with any questions or experiencing any difficulties during the transition are encouraged to contact David Mintz, CAE, TAA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 512/479-6252.
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