Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 55. Property and Conveyances [Repealed Effective October 1, 2019]
Chapter 13. Landlord and Tenant
11/18/2019

§ 55-226.2. (Repealed effective October 1, 2019) Energy submetering, energy allocation equipment, sewer and water submetering equipment, ratio utility billings systems; local government fees.

A. Energy submetering equipment, energy allocation equipment, water and sewer submetering equipment, or a ratio utility billing system may be used in a commercial or residential building, manufactured home park, or campground if clearly stated in the rental agreement or lease for the leased premises or dwelling unit. All energy submetering equipment and energy allocation equipment shall meet the requirements and standards established and enforced by the State Corporation Commission pursuant to § 56-245.3.

B. If energy submetering equipment, water and sewer submetering equipment, or energy allocation equipment is used in any building, manufactured home park, or campground, the owner, manager, or operator of the building, manufactured home park, or campground shall bill the tenant for electricity, oil, natural gas or water and sewer for the same billing period as the utility serving the building or campground, unless the rental agreement or lease expressly provides otherwise. The owner, manager, or operator of the building, manufactured home park, or campground may charge and collect from the tenant additional service charges, including, but not limited to, monthly billing fees, account set-up fees or account move-out fees, to cover the actual costs of administrative expenses and billing charged to the building, manufactured home park, or campground owner, manager, or operator by a third-party provider of such services, provided that such charges are agreed to by the building or campground owner and the tenant in the rental agreement or lease. The building or campground owner may require the tenant to pay a late charge of up to $5 if the tenant fails to make payment when due, which shall not be less than 15 days following the date of mailing or delivery of the bill sent pursuant to this section.

C. If a ratio utility billing system is used in any building, manufactured home park, or campground, in lieu of increasing the rent, the owner, manager, or operator of the building, manufactured home park, or campground may employ such a program that utilizes a mathematical formula for allocating, among the tenants in a building, manufactured home park, or campground, the actual or anticipated water, sewer, electrical, oil, or natural gas billings billed to the building or campground owner from a third-party provider of the utility service. The owner, manager, or operator of the building, manufactured home park, or campground may charge and collect from the tenant additional service charges, including but not limited to monthly billing fees, account set-up fees, or account move-out fees, to cover the actual costs of administrative expenses and billings charged to the building, manufactured home park, or campground owner, manager, or operator by a third-party provider of such services, provided that such charges are agreed to by the building, manufactured home park, or campground owner and the tenant in the rental agreement or lease. The building, manufactured home park, or campground owner may require the tenant to pay a late charge of up to $5 if the tenant fails to make payment when due, which shall not be less than 15 days following the date of mailing or delivery of the bill sent pursuant to this section. The late charge shall be deemed rent (i) as defined in § 55-248.4 if a ratio utility billing system is used in a residential multifamily dwelling unit subject to the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (§ 55-248.2 et seq.) or (ii) as defined in § 55-248.41 if a ratio utility billing system is used in manufactured home park subject to the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act (55-248.41 et seq.).

D. Energy allocation equipment shall be tested periodically by the owner, operator or manager of the building, manufactured home park, or campground. Upon the request by a tenant, the owner shall test the energy allocation equipment without charge. The test conducted without charge to the tenant shall not be conducted more frequently than once in a 24-month period for the same tenant. The tenant or his designated representative may be present during the testing of the energy allocation equipment. A written report of the results of the test shall be made to the tenant within 10 working days after the completion of the test.

E. The owner of any building, manufactured home park, or campground shall maintain adequate records regarding energy submetering equipment, water and sewer submetering equipment, energy allocation equipment, or a ratio utility billing system. A tenant may inspect and copy the records for the leased premises during reasonable business hours at a convenient location within the building or campground. The owner of the building or campground may impose and collect a reasonable charge for copying documents, reflecting the actual costs of materials and labor for copying, prior to providing copies of the records to the tenant.

F. Notwithstanding any enforcement action undertaken by the State Corporation Commission pursuant to its authority under § 56-245.3, tenants and owners shall retain any private right of action resulting from any breach of the rental agreement or lease terms required by this section or § 56-245.3, if applicable, to the same extent as such actions may be maintained for breach of other terms of the rental agreement or lease under Chapter 13 (§ 55-217 et seq.) or Chapter 13.2 (§ 55-248.2 et seq.) of this title, if applicable. The use of energy submetering equipment, water and sewer submetering equipment, energy allocation equipment, or a ratio utility billing system is not within the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Chapter 56 (§ 3.2-5600 et seq.) of Title 3.2.

G. In lieu of increasing the rent, the owner, manager, or operator of a commercial or residential building, manufactured home park, or campground may employ a program that utilizes a mathematical formula for allocating the actual or anticipated local government fees billed to the building, manufactured home park, or campground owner among the tenants in such building, manufactured home park, or campground if clearly stated in the rental agreement or lease for the leased premises or dwelling unit. Permitted allocation methods may include formulas based upon square footage, occupancy, number of bedrooms, or some other specific method agreed to by the building, manufactured home park, or campground owner and the tenant in the rental agreement or lease. Such owner, manager, or operator of a commercial or residential building, manufactured home park, or campground may also charge and collect from each tenant additional service charges, including monthly billing fees, account set-up fees, or account move-out fees, to cover the actual costs of administrative expenses for administration of such a program. If the building is residential and is subject to (i) the Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (§ 55-248.2 et seq.), such local government fees and administrative expenses shall be deemed to be rent as defined in § 55-248.4 or (ii) the Manufactured Home Lot Rental Act (55-248.41 et seq.), such local government fees and administrative expenses shall be deemed to be rent as defined in § 55-248.41.

H. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit an owner, manager, or operator of a commercial or residential building, manufactured home park, or campground from including water, sewer, electrical, natural gas, oil, or other utilities in the amount of rent as specified in the rental agreement or lease.

I. As used in this section:

"Building" means all of the individual units served through the same utility-owned meter within a commercial or residential building that is defined in subsection A of § 56-245.2 as an apartment building or house, office building or shopping center, or all of the individual dwelling units served through the same utility-owned meter within a manufactured home park as defined in § 55-248.41.

"Campground" means the same as that term is defined in § 35.1-1.

"Campsite" means the same as that term is defined in § 35.1-1.

"Energy allocation equipment" has the same meaning ascribed to such term in subsection A of § 56-245.2.

"Energy submetering equipment" has the same meaning ascribed to "submetering equipment" in subsection A of § 56-245.2.

"Local government fees" means any local government charges or fees assessed against a commercial or residential building or campground, including stormwater, recycling, trash collection, elevator testing, fire or life safety testing, or residential rental inspection programs.

"Ratio utility billing system" means a program that utilizes a mathematical formula for allocating, among the tenants in a building or campground, the actual or anticipated water, sewer, electrical, oil, or natural gas billings billed to the building or campground owner from a third-party provider of the utility service. Permitted allocation methods may include formulas based upon square footage, occupancy, number of bedrooms, or some other specific method agreed to by the building or campground owner and the tenant in the rental agreement or lease.

"Water and sewer submetering equipment" means equipment used to measure actual water or sewer usage in any dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit, as defined in subsection A of § 56-245.2 or campsite, when such equipment is not owned or controlled by the utility or other provider of water or sewer service that provides service to the building in which the dwelling unit or nonresidential rental unit is located or campground where the campsite is located.

1992, c. 766; 2003, c. 355; 2005, c. 278; 2010, c. 550; 2012, c. 338; 2014, c. 501; 2015, c. 596; 2017, c. 730.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.