Arizona Submetering is governed by 33-1314.01. Utility charges; submetering; ratio utility billing; allocation; water system exemption
The Law Reads as follows (emphasis added) :
A. A landlord may charge separately for gas, water, wastewater, solid waste removal or electricity by installing a submetering system or by allocating the charges separately through a ratio utility billing system.
B. If a landlord charges separately for a utility pursuant to subsection A, the landlord may recover the charges imposed on the landlord by the utility provider plus an administrative fee for the landlord for actual administrative costs only. The landlord shall not impose any additional charges. The rental agreement shall contain a disclosure that lists the utility services that are charged separately and shall specify the amount of any administrative fee that is associated with submetering or the use of a ratio utility billing system.
C. If provided in the rental agreement, the landlord may impose a submetering system or ratio utility billing system during the term of a rental agreement if the landlord provides notice as prescribed by subsection G.
D. If a landlord is not in compliance with subsection B, the tenant shall first object in writing to the landlord regarding the utility billing. If the dispute is not resolved, the tenant may file a civil complaint in justice court to enforce this section.
E. If a landlord uses an allocation or submetering system, the bill format for each billing period shall:
- Separately state the cost of the charges for the period together with the opening and the closing meter readings and the dates of the meter readings.
- Show the amount of any administrative fee charged.
F. If a landlord does not use a submetering system and allocates charges separately for gas, water, wastewater, solid waste removal or electricity, the landlord may allocate the costs to each tenant by using one or more of the following ratio utility billing system methods:
- Per tenant.
- Proportionately by livable square footage.
- Per type of unit.
- Per number of water fixtures.
- For water and wastewater, by use of an individually submetered hot water usage measure for the tenant’s dwelling unit.
- Any other method that fairly allocates the charges and that is described in the tenant’s rental agreement.
G. If a landlord uses a ratio utility billing system method pursuant to subsection F, the rental agreement shall contain a specific description of the ratio utility billing method used to allocate utility costs. For any existing tenancies, the landlord shall provide at least ninety days’ notice to the tenant before the landlord begins using a submetering system or allocating costs through a ratio utility billing system.
H. For purposes of regulating apartment communities as public or consecutive water systems, the department of environmental quality shall not adopt rules pursuant to title 49, chapter 2, article 9 that are more stringent than those authorized by federal law. Without other evidence of activities that are subject to regulation under title 49, chapter 2, article 9, the department of environmental quality shall not use an apartment community’s use of a submetering system or a ratio utility billing system as the sole basis for regulating an apartment community as a public or consecutive water system.
Arizona has a pretty wide open RUBS policy, I do not feel any state should allow RUBS billing as an approved billing method, however it does look to me that the property must disclose the RUBS billing method in the rental agreement, this is good as you know before your lease the apartment what to expect, and it prevents them from changing the method on you as many properties do.
The key thing here is that AZ seems pretty strict with the notification in the rental agreement, I know many properties will start submetering programs and force the residents to pay the bills even if the rental agreement does not allow for it originally. This is not allowed in AZ, be careful though, they may send you a “Notice” as the law required, and have you sign that noitce but they (or their lawyers) have carefully worded that notice to be a Rental Agreement modification meaning you just approved to be billed for utilities. Speak to your own lawyer before signing ANYTHING the property gives you like that. If you do not think you can afford on, there are several organizations in most state that provide free or low cost legal services to low income people for just this type of thing, call your local Arizona Bar Association, they should be able to direct you where to go.
Another key thing about the Arizona law is the Administrative Fee disclosure, this also must be in the Rental Agreement, this prevents a mid lease change in Admin fees.
So the key if you live in AZ is to know your rental agreement, know it well, and hold the landlord to it. If they do not want to abide by the agreement take them to “justice court” which is AZ version of Small Claims.