Notes from the Attorneys of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS Legal Hotline
Q: I heard that the Governor signed a new law which now allows landlord’s to charge for water, does this mean I can now charge my tenants for the water they consume?
A: No, unfortunately under the new law you cannot charge existing tenants for their water consumption, however you are correct, there has been a change in the law. Led by the efforts of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board the real estate industry has finalized an effort to legalize the right for landlords to install separate meters for water usage in residential rental units. This law, however, has specific requirements that landlords must meet to take advantage of this new law:
- Landlords will have to install water saving devices in all apartments that are submetered: Under this new law landlords incur new responsibilities to ensure that all apartments are equipped with water saving devices. Low flush toilets, water-saving faucets and shower heads are required to be installed by a licensed plumber and the property owner must certify to the municipality under the pains and penalties of perjury that these devices are properly installed and that the submeter is accurate and working properly.
- All existing tenants are grandfathered from this new law and therefore can not be required to pay separately for water. This provision ensures that no tenant that is currently in any residential unit will be placed in a position where they would be required to pay both their current rent and a new charge for water. It also means that new tenants will understand this responsibility at the inception of a new tenancy and negotiate the rent they will pay with a clear understanding of the utilities they will be responsible for.