Water Board Can Require Meter Installation
LVT Number: 8414
Facts: The Rent Stabilization Association (RSA), an organization representing 25,000 building owners, sued the New York City Water Board. RSA claimed that the city's water metering program created undue monetary hardship for landlords of rent-regulated buildings. In 1986, the Water Board had announced a new universal metering program, under which all city buildings were to get water meters within 10 years. DEP began installing the meters in 1988. RSA claimed that the Water Board wasn't authorized to charge landlords for actual water use. The prior billing system had charged landlords by building frontage. Court: RSA loses. The Water Board is a public authority with more freedom and flexibility than a state board, department, or commission. Under state law, it has broad powers to make rules and regulations fixing rates and service charges as necessary. It wasn't unreasonable to adopt a system basing water rates on actual consumption rather than building frontage. The court acknowledged landlords' concerns that the new metering system could increase their costs without promoting tenant conservation measures. The court noted that a billing cap program or some provision of the Rent Stabilization Code might provide relief. Landlords also could install water-saving devices in apartments. The court indicated that further change, such as requiring tenants to share in water costs, would have to come from the state legislature.
Rent Stabilization Association of NYC, Inc. v New York City Water Board: NYLJ, p. 26, col. 1 (11/15/93) (Sup. Ct. NY; Collazo, J)