Across the nation people have seen the photographs of Lake Folsom at record lows. We hear that the snow pack is a fraction of normal for this time of year for those of us living in CA, and in the Central Valley in particular the drought is a fact of life.
Last year we were encouraged to conserve water. This year as the drought enters its 7th year cities and counties are taking extreme measures to enforce prudent water use.
The city of Sacramento has adopted at STAGE 2 Water Shortage Contingency Plan. These guidelines are the most restrictive in the area served by Real Property Management Sac-Metro and are a good guideline to use as conservation efforts continue to increase.
As part of the Stage 2 plan the City has reduced watering days to 2 days per week based on address.
- Odd Numbered addresses should water on Tuesdays and/or Saturdays.
- Even Numbered addresses should water on Wednesdays and/or Sundays.
- NO WATERING IS ALLOWED on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays.
- Watering may only be done before 10am or after 7pm and no overwatering is permitted.
Fines for violations of the water use restrictions will result in a written warning followed by a $50 fine (which may be waived by attending a Water Conservation Workshop). A third violation results in a $200 fine and there is a $1000 fine for each subsequent violation.
How will this affect you as a property owner? And what can you/or your property manager do to minimize the impact?
Increased repair costs:
This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If the tenant is working with you to keep your property compliant and the water bills low it is in your best interest to help them to minimize water waste and to handle water leaks, failing fixtures, and broken sprinklers as soon as possible. Less water use means a smaller water bill. Affordable water bills mean less likelihood that the tenant will become financially distressed due to rising utility bills. Lower turnover (of quality tenants) ultimately saves you money on both maintenance and on vacancy.
Understand that even the greenest thumbs in Sacramento are going to struggle this summer. If some landscaping is lost (especially turf) consider drought tolerant landscaping on turn over. Please remember that tenants cannot be charged for damage that they do not cause. If plants become stressed and die because of the high heat and drought conditions (act of God) charging the tenant deposit will be inadvisable.
Unexpected bills/liens when tenants fail to pay for water:
We strongly recommend that tenants who are responsible for water sewer and trash bills pay those bills through the landlord. The landlord pays the bill then the tenant reimburses the landlord. This is more complicated and the landlord is “fronting” the money for the utility, however, this provides the landlord with visibility regarding the tenant’s payment status, allows the landlord to address the issue promptly rather than allow the issue to become major uncontrolled expenses. Real Property Management offers this service as part of our regular management of a property.
If you are already a customer of Real Property Management rest assured that RPM is playing an active role in tenant notification regarding the new rules. We will be working with both landlords and tenants to facilitate compliance and address issues as they arise. Our goal is responsible conservation of our natural resources and responsible management of the issues that will unavoidably arise as we continue through the California summer.
There are a number of water agencies in Sacramento and Placer Counties. Make sure you know who is servicing your property and visit their website for additional information on the specific rules that apply to your property.
For more information about water conservation in the Sacramento Area check out:
Sac Suburban Water http://sswd.org/
Golden State Water http://www.gswater.com/
City of Sacramento http://portal.cityofsacramento.org/utilities/conservation
City of Roseville http://www.roseville.ca.us/eu/water_utility/default.asp