Is sub-metering dead in Seattle?
The City is sending letters to landlords telling them that the City will no longer open new accounts for tenants for water, sewer, and garbage. I think this could have a significant impact on the “not my problem” utility costs issue going forward. This causes me to consider all kinds of corollary issues but let’s focus on just this simple one for now.
My understanding of this letter (attached) is that if a landlord has sub-meters for tenant water consumption and the current tenant vacates the next tenant will not be able to get the meter billing into their name and responsibility. So the options for the landlord are to pay the entire water bill themselves and incorporate it into the rent (as still probably 60% of Seattle Landlords do), or bill the tenants an additional amount that is imprecise, or read each meter each month and do the math and bill each tenant their appropriate amount, effectively making the landlord a utility provider. This sounds like a suddenly ripe opportunity for some enterprising legal minds to make hay with.
On the bright side, if you were one of those landlords jealous of your peers with tenant paid utilities you may now be glad you didn’t spend the money to sub-meter and will now be renting for truly comparable figures with everyone being forced to have their rents be all-inclusive.
A further thought on this is to wonder how this will affect consumption but who has the time to theorize on that topic all day when there are now all these tenant bills to create.