Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Massachusetts

I live in a condo with 55 units. Because of a huge spike in water usage, we are considering/exploring sub-metering. Our Management company sent us the following message:

""We are restricted with the methods and means of individualization of water meters with what the City of ____ will accept. As noted at the meeting, separate water meters in each unit is NOT an option with the city of ____ � so this latest email is off the table."

We have addressed the acceptability of the meters with the City and there is no problem. Is there anything in any legislation that says that submeters may NOT be installed inside the unit. "IN" is a very expensive preposition. Not being able to put the meter inside the unit and having to wire to an outside meter would cost us an additional $20,000. It seems strange to me that in tenancy situations landlords are obligated to install low-flow toilets, shower heads inside a unit but forbidden to install a wireless water meter inside the unit. Obviously installing a wired meter would not be okay. That would be intrusive. One would have to gain entrance to read the meter. That would absolutely be an unacceptable arrangement. But a wireless meter inside the unit? What is the issue? Is there an issue or is this just a translation of "I don't want to do it that way."

Asked on 6/08/16, 12:13 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Alan Pransky Law Office of Alan J. Pransky

The City may be saying that theoretically it is possible to install sub-meters. That does not mean that it is actually possible. I suggest that you contact a plumber in the City who will look at the way the water is piped into your condo development and find out if you can install sub-meters. A different approach may be to ask the city to charge different rates to the condo. Many cities charge different rates depending on the volume of water used. A normal single family house may use 100 cubic feet of water in a year. They may be charged the minimum rate. Your condo, with one meter, may use 5,500 cubic feet of water in a year. This could result in the condo being charged the maximum rate. You may be able to get the City to divide the total amount of usage by the number of units to establish the water rate. This could result in significant savings as the rate could change from the maximum rate to the minimum rate.

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Answered on 6/08/16, 12:30 pm

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