Sonora, CA — T.U.D.’s recently changed tenant billing policy brought a heated debate tonight. At the request of some landlords, the board discussed whether to rescind the changes.
On February 25, the board voted 4 to 1 in favor of the new policy, which requires a fee for mailing bills and notices directly to tenants. The new policy would only go into effect if a new tenant moves in, or a tenant is delinquent on their bill. When that happens, the billing would be setup solely in the property owner’s name. If so choose, the landlords could request that a duplicate bill be mailed to the tenant, for a $5 fee. T.U.D.’s reasons for the policy changes were to streamline the billing process, cut down on paperwork and reduce costs.
Several property owners spoke out against the changes saying it punishes the landlord and not the delinquent tenant. Some argued it turns the landlords into bill collectors for T.U.D. and could even hurt the landlord’s credit rating if tenants do not pay bills that are in their name. Landlord Dan Unger told the Board, “I think everyone here is in favor of the District covering its costs on these issues, but I think the policy that you’re proposing is penalizing everybody.” Another landlord scolded the Board telling them “to behave like other public utilities” that do their own billing and do not expect the landlords to do their collections.
However, property owner Ron Ringen applauded the new policy saying, “I’m kind of happy about it because it’s going to put me in full control of what’s happening at that piece of property. I’m gonna know what’s going on, water wise use, every time I get a bill.”
In the end, the Board voted to keep the policy in place, but refer its implementation, enforcement, and fee amounts back to the Finance Committee for review.