Topic No. 331: Water Revenue Bond Passthroughs
A landlord may pass through to tenants 50% of the water bill charges attributable to water rate increases resulting from the issuance of Water System Improvement Revenue Bonds authorized at the November 2002 election. Water bills prepared by the S.F. Public Utilities Commission commencing July 1, 2005 specify the water bill charges that are eligible for the passthrough.
The landlord is not required to file a petition with the Rent Board for approval of the Water Revenue Bond Passthrough. However, the landlord must use the Water Revenue Bond Passthrough Worksheet in order to calculate the passthrough. To receive a copy of the Worksheet, you can fax it to yourself through our Fax Back system by calling (415)252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfrb.org. The Worksheet is also available at our office.
The landlord may base the calculation of the Water Revenue Bond Passthrough on a single water bill OR, in the alternative, on all the water bills for any calendar year. Where the landlord elects to calculate the Water Revenue Bond Passthrough based on a calendar year, the passthrough must be imposed at the time of the annual rent increase, on the tenant's rent increase anniversary date. Where the landlord elects to calculate the passthrough on a single water bill, the passthrough need not be imposed on the tenant's anniversary date; however, the landlord must serve notice of such passthrough within 60 days of receipt of the water bill. In any event, the passthrough shall not become part of the tenant's base rent.
There are several specific requirements for the notice of rent increase for a Water Revenue Bond Passthrough, including the following:
- The notice shall specify the dollar amount of the monthly passthrough, the period of time covered by the water bills that are used to calculate the passthrough and the number of months that the tenant is required to pay the passthrough.
- The notice must include a copy of a completed Water Revenue Bond Passthrough Worksheet.
- The notice shall explain that the passthrough is based on the issuance of Water System Improvement Revenue Bonds.
- The notice must state that the tenant can receive a copy of the applicable water bills from the landlord upon request.
- The notice must also state that the unit is in compliance with any applicable laws requiring water conservation devices such as the Residential Water Conservation Ordinance which is found in Chapter 12A of the San Francisco Housing Code. You can fax yourself a copy of Chapter 12A through our Fax Back system or find it on our website.
In addition to these specific notice requirements, state law requires service of a thirty-day notice if the passthrough, either by itself or combined with any other rent increase in the one year period before the effective date, is no more than 10%. A sixty-day notice is required if the increase, either by itself or combined with any other rent increase in the one year period before the effective date, is more than 10%. If the rent increase notice is served by mail, the required notice period must be extended by an additional five days.
A tenant may file a hardship application with the Rent Board requesting relief from payment of all or part of the Water Revenue Bond Passthrough. Once a hardship application is filed, the tenant need not pay the passthrough until a decision is made by an Administrative Law Judge after a hearing on the tenant's hardship application. The hardship application must be filed within one year of the effective date of a Water Revenue Bond Passthrough. A tenant may also file a petition for arbitration at the Rent Board to challenge an improper Water Revenue Bond Passthrough. Such petitions must also be filed within one year of the effective date of the passthrough.