1269.5 Payment of Sewer Service Fees by Tenants

A. Background

On May 31, 1980, sewer service fees charged by the City for the cost of maintaining sewers, were billed on the property tax bill and paid by property owners. For this reason sewer service has always been considered a housing service that is provided to the unit as part of the rent. Sewer service is considered to be a base year operating/maintenance expense and increases or decreases to the sewer service fee have always been included in the calculation of the Annual General Adjustment. Landlords are responsible for providing and paying for a unit's sewer service, notwithstanding any changes in the City's method of billing for such services.

On or about July 1, 1997, the City of Berkeley stopped billing sewer service fees on the property tax bill and arranged to have them billed by East Bay Municipal Utility District on their water bills. Some water bills are paid by landlords, and some are paid by tenants. As a result of this change in billing, some tenants may be billed for the sewer fee which is a responsibility of the landlord.

B. Sewer Service Charges Paid by the Tenant May Be Deducted from the Rent

(1) Any tenant who pays for the unit's water and who receives a bill for sewer services as part of his or her water bill may deduct the amount paid from the rent. The landlord may request a copy of the water bill from the tenant

(2) Where a tenant fails to pay a sewer service fee and, as a consequence, his or her water is shut off, the lack of water shall not constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.

C. Sewer Service Charges for Tenancies Beginning On or After January 1, 1999

For tenancies beginning on or after January 1, 1999, payment of sewer service charges shall remain the responsibility of the landlord unless such responsibility is expressly assigned to the tenant by the terms of a written lease or rental agreement. 

[Effective June 20, 1997, amended December 5, 1997 and December 21, 1998]