Brown could flip the off switch on utility-rate posting requirement

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If your rental property has a master meter for power and gas, you’ve probably posted those lengthy utility rate schedules for your tenants to review.

A bill on the governor’s desk would allow for a more convenient alternative.

Sen. Anthony Cannella

Sen. Anthony Cannella

Senate Bill 196 by Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, would allow a landlord to post an Internet address where tenants can obtain a utility company’s rate schedule, instead of the current requirement that the rate schedule, in its entirety, be posted in a conspicuous place.

Posting an Internet address takes up less space, time and money than posting the prevailing rate as published by the utility company in question. A rate sheet, especially one with multiple tiers, can be quite lengthy and cumbersome to display.

The online alternative offered in SB 196 also allows residents to check the rates from the comfort of home – instead of, say, a clubhouse or leasing office.

On their computer, renters in master-metered communities can look up the local power company’s utility rates and check whether the landlord is billing them fairly.

The Public Utilities Commission requires that a master-meter customer – a property owner or manager — charge each user the same rate that would apply if the resident bought the service directly from the utility.

In California, master metering can appear in both mobile home parks and apartment buildings. In some cases, the service flows through a sub-meter to each mobile home or apartment unit, and the tenant receives a bill from the landlord with the opening and closing readings for the resident’s sub-meter.

If no sub-meter exists, tenants often receive an allocated bill from the landlord, where the costs are split equally among all renters.

 

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