Rentals in Brookline>Question Details

Sam02135, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

Passing the cost of water as a utility to the tenants... the law states that I can as long as I submeter etc. But can I bypass that by an addendum?

Asked by Sam02135, Boston, MA Wed Nov 30, 2011

Help the community by answering this question:


No, you cannot bypass the legal requirements by an addendum to the lease or by an other means.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
Thank you all for answering this question... the problem was the way the law was written...i.e. "...landlords could (keyword) pass along the water/sewer charges ...". The word "could" was also pointed out by a small claim's judge gleaned on, which supported my case. But having this come up again.. I decided to go into the court house to seek and answer. The court clerk said I cannot pass along the charges via the addendum. His words are good as gold to me.

And as some of you pointed out about adding "expense" to the rent .. true. But I chose not to but chose to put it in the addendum so the end user would be directly responsible... which was why a study was done to support how much water is saved (%30) when end users would be responsible and how subsequent laws were made for low flow toilets, etc, and the passing of the charges to the tenants. Without the end user responsible, this law is USELESS and a waste of TAX PAYER'S money! That's all landlords. This is how rediculouse(sp) Congress/State are. FYI ... again .. thanks for the answers...
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
For any necessary legal advice do consult with an attorney who specializes in real estate; generally if laws exist they should not be bypassed....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
Uusally not, usually a seperate meter needs to be installed for accurate readings, otherwise as a landlord it is one of those items you need to pass along in the rent. Good luck
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
Thanks again for your answers. Forgive me for posting a "question" but I'm really commenting and facts gathering to some of the posted answers.

It's true the challenge is to determine who is using the water in a multifamily home so the appropriate units are billed accordingly, but what happens in condo units? What law is there to "make" condo owners pay ONLY their usage? There is no law, but the Master Deed and it is based on the unit size and not who owns (same as the occupant at times) the condo. So in fact, the excuse from the lawmakers is baseless, they're simply protecting the end user (tenants in this case) and not the home owner where the later has to jump through hoops to comply with the law.

In stead of going to a lawyer and pay through the nose, I have gone to the court house and asked directly to the housing court/clerk.

One person that answered the question stated that in their community, owners are allowed to only pass along the charges that's above the normal quarterly bill. I'm assuming after the requirements of separate meters and costly "so forths". But it appears this city ordinance put further restrictions on the real estate tax payers, is that legal? I'm not sure anyone can answer that question unless you're a seasoned lawyer. I will go into Housing Court to find that answer, but it appears it is legit since this ordinance has not been challenged (nor really care by the house owner because WE simply raise rent and the heck with these law makers).

Thanks again all for answering.. tired of double dipping lawyers... I'll post what legal answers that I have found as a first amendment right so I will "not get in trouble" in practicing law without a license .. ;).
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 5, 2011
I would be very careful and be sure to be in complete compliance.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Dec 5, 2011
There is no work around. Everything has to comply with the law as written. You can have your attorney draft the lease agreement to make sure you're in compliance but there is some real teeth to the law if you don't fully comply.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
Here, landlords can only pass along additional charges above the normal quartely charges. It sounds as if you neeed to speak with an attorney regarding this matter.
Let us know how you make out!
The Marie Souza Team - Top Selling on Cape Cod
Cape Cod Real Estate Services
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
The reason we were able to get this law passed was because of conservation. If the tenant is responsible for the water bill, they are more likely to report when there is a drippy faucet. Otherwise, many do not care. I had an apartment and the water bill went down by $100/quarter once a tenant moved out and we replaced a leaky faucet. Wish she would have told us.

The challenge is that you have to be able to prove who is using the water. In a duplex or single family if the water is already separately metered, you are golden. In a multi-unit building, this is not the case and that is why submetering is needed.

Unfortunately, for most landlords, the cost of putting in the submetering system is not cost justifiable.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
You might be thinking of the Water and Sewer Addendum. That simply spells out that you will not only submeter, but certify that you have replaced all shower heads, faucets and toilets with Water Conservation devices and that has to be filed with the local health department. There is no way around any of that. It, frankly, is a bit of a hassle. It's much easier to charge more rent and include water and sewer.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Nov 30, 2011
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