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Landlords Want Renters To Pay Their Own Water Bills

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Tenants would collectively pay the building's water bill (Photo by Jari Hindstroem via Shutterstock)
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Using the reasoning that we'd all be a little more conscientious with our water usage if we had to pay for it, some landlords are lobbying to get tenants to foot their own water bill. The Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles is pushing for renters to have to pay their own water bills, KPCC reports. As it stands, about 60 percent of L.A. renters have their water bill included in their rent. The Apartment Association is seeking to trade footing the water bill for a slight break in rent. Their reasoning, according to the group's Executive Vice President, Jim Clarke, is that "we want to find some way for [renters] to be incentivized to conserve water."

Tenants who live in rent-controlled buildings currently don't have to worry about landlords changing the terms of their leases. Under Los Angeles' current ordinance, a landlord could only push the water bill onto the tenant if it were an entirely new renter.

Earl Vaughn, a landlord with six properties, told KPCC that his tenants haven't been using any less water, despite the drought. He's worried that he'll get penalized for something he has no control over, and said he has no desire to go around being the "water police" among his tenants. In one 7-unit Echo Park building, he says his annual water bill comes out to $5,000—more than the property tax.

If the Association's proposal were come to fruition, affected tenants could start seeing water bills in six months. Tenants would collectively pay the bill, with a third party figuring out much each renter owed based on unit size or other variables.

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Larry Gross, who works with the tenant advocacy group Coalition for Economic Survival, told KPCC he thinks individual meters that calculated a tenant's actual water use would be better than having renters pay collectively, and that he thinks renters need more education on water conservation.