Bill would block BCWA from charging landlords

BCWA

Four local legislators are introducing a bill into the General Assembly that would block the Bristol County Water Authority from following state law that requires them to charge landlords for their tenants’ water use.

The bill was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Ray Gallison and Kenneth Marshall of Bristol, Jan Malik of Warren and Joy Hearn of Barrington, but was later withdrawn due to a typographical error. An amended bill was expected to be introduced Wednesday.

ray gallison

Rep. Raymond Gallison of Bristol.

Ironically, state law already requires that water authorities charge landlords directly for their tenants’ usage, and allows authorities to place liens on owners’ property if bills aren’t paid. For years, BCWA officials have disregarded that section of state law, choosing instead to allow tenants to open accounts directly with the authority. Recently, however, executive director Pamela Marchand and other BCWA brass decided to begin adhering to the law, reasoning that going after owners would save the BCWA close to $40,000 per year in uncollectible water bills while freeing up clerks who would otherwise have to chase down delinquent renters.

The bill would leave existing law in place, but exempt the Bristol County Water Authority from its provisions.

On Wednesday, Rep. Gallison said the irony of the legislation isn’t lost on him, considering recent moves by the BCWA:

“It’s absolutely ironic,” said Rep. Gallison, who has called, unsuccessfully, for the BCWA to be placed under the control of the Public Utilities Commission.

“First they were saying they don’t want to follow state law and don’t want to be regulated by the PUC, which would give ratepayers more of a say. Yet on this point they’re trying to use existing state law in their favor. When it benefits them they’re trying to stick it to the ratepayer.”

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9 Comments

  1. Nard Glimrod said:

    This article just made my day.

    I’m going to call “DAVETAXPREP’s” former landlord and head over to Aidan’s to celebrate.

    We’ll throw back a few pints and then sing a rousing chorus of “Let those who use the water pay for the water!”

  2. DAVETAXPREP said:

    Hey Nard Glimrod, I wouldn’t start singing that soon, just because they are submitting the bill doesn’t mean it will become law. I remember something about a bill to stop tolls on the bridges and where did that go? If you do go and throw a few pints take Lastoneleft too, How ironic that my former landlord paid for the water, because we all suffered paying high electric and gas bills. One bedroom/1person apt cant use that much water as I previously stated. I would have love to pay the water compared to the $1,000.00 gas/electric I paid over the winter.

    • Nard Glimrod said:

      – One bedroom/1person apt cant use that much water as I
      — previously stated.

      You really don’t understand how bad a tenant can be, do you?

      Let me give you a scenario: A landlord informs the tenants that their lease will not be renewed. They do not like this and begin looking for every means possible to “stick it” to the landlord. It would be quite possible for tenants to attach a water hose to a basement sink and let it drain directly into a nearby catch basin for the final month of their tenancy. The motivation for doing this would be pure spite and please believe me that such things are possible.

      Do all tenants behave this way? Of course not. In fact, the vast majority are NOT like this. However, until the BCWA calls the person who’s name is on a water bill to warn them that charges are being racked up, the landlord has no other protection. The cost of something like this would be hundreds of dollars within a one-month time period.

      The only real protection is a policy where anyone who uses the water pays for the water. At some level, this is also just common sense, since it encourages every user to conserve the resource.

      I’m not sure how you can see paying for something you use as unfair.

  3. DAVETAXPREP said:

    MR NIMROD, YOU MAKE A GOOD POINT; HOWEVER YOU ARE ASSUMING THERE ARE METERS FOR EACH APARTMENT! AS MOST APT IN THE EASTBAY ARE PRE 1970 MOST ARE METERED WITH ONE METER. SO INORDER TO BILL EACH TENANT THAT WOULD REQUIRE RE-METERING AND IM SURE BCWA IS NOT GOING TO DO THAT FOR FREE. SO AGAIN THIS FALLS ON THE LANDLORD. I DONT THINK YOU WOULD FIND IT FAIR TO PAY 1/6TH OF A MONTHLY WATER BILL. AND FOR SCENERIO OF GETTING BACK AT THE LANDLORD, HOW ABOUT AFTER A 2FT BLIZZARD NOONE SHOWED TO PLOW OR CLEAR SIDEWALKS! THE LANDLORD ARE LITTLE DEVILS TOO.

    • Nard Glimrod said:

      Any tenant who visits a potential rental unit where any utility is shared by more than one unit but the tenant is expected to pay a shared portion of the total bill should continue on down the road and look for another place to stay.

      Before I purchased the multi-family house that I own, I visited approximately 10 properties in Bristol. All but one had separate meters for all utilities in all dwellings. All were built long before 1970. I would not have purchased the one that I saw that had a shared meter because I assumed I would not be able to rent it to anyone.

      I’ll say it again: The people who use the water should pay for the water.

  4. DAVETAXPREP said:

    And I agree, but that’s your opinion, but the situation doesn’t always fall into that category, your opinion is based on your a landlord, my opinion is based on being a tenant, who has been screwed by a landlord. So our opinions are going to differ. This could go one forever, because I have several horror stories of what tenants had have to suffer because of the landlord, and most cases the law sides with the landlord, so you are not going to change my mind. A little hope is that there are good landlords out there, somewhere!

  5. CM said:

    There are arguments to be made on both sides. However, I DON’T like the idea of there being an exception to state law just for the East Bay. The water authority will collect more money if landlords pay all the water bills. On the other hand, tenants will have less incentive to conserve water. I said less, not none, since a landlord can always raise a tenant’s rent. In my last apartment, I paid for my water — but I suspected that my landlord was using some of my water. In my current building, the landlord pays for it all, and I cooperate by using as little as I can.

  6. CM said:

    There are arguments to be made on both sides. However, I DON’T like the idea of having an exception to the law for just East Bay residents. Let it be one way all over the state.

    If the landlord pays the bills, the water authority will get more money. If the tenant pays the bills, the tenant will have less incentive to conserve water (of course, the landlord can always raise the rent). In my last apartment, I paid the bill, but I was certain that my landlord was using some of my water. In my current apartment, my landlord pays the bill, but I do everything I can to conserve water.

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