Miami-Dade Legislative Item
File Number: 110777
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File Number: 110777 File Type: Resolution Status: Adopted
Version: 0 Reference: R-357-11 Control: Board of County Commissioners
File Name: CREATE BRIDGE ACCOUNTS FOR TENANTS GROUPS Introduced: 4/5/2011
Requester: NONE Cost: Final Action: 5/3/2011
Agenda Date: 5/3/2011 Agenda Item Number: 11A2
Notes: Title: RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE MIAMI-DADE WATER AND SEWER DEPARTMENT; AMENDING DEPARTMENT RULES & REGULATIONS TO CREATE BRIDGE ACCOUNTS FOR TENANT GROUPS OF MULTI-UNIT RENTAL DWELLINGS THAT MEET CERTAIN CONDITIONS [SEE ORIGINAL ITEM UNDER FILE NO. 110439]
Indexes: WATER AND SEWER
Sponsors: Audrey M. Edmonson, Prime Sponsor
  Rebeca Sosa, Co-Sponsor
  Dennis C. Moss, Co-Sponsor
  Jean Monestime, Co-Sponsor
Sunset Provision: No Effective Date: Expiration Date:
Registered Lobbyist: None Listed


Legislative History

Acting Body Date Agenda Item Action Sent To Due Date Returned Pass/Fail

Board of County Commissioners 5/3/2011 11A2 Adopted P
REPORT: Chairman Martinez noted the County Commission needed to adopt a penalty against the landlord who did not pay water and sewer fees. Mr. Joe Ruiz, Deputy Director, Water and Sewer Department (WASD), noted the immediate punishment was for the County to place a lien on the property and the County would collect the outstanding debt when the landlord sold the property. County Attorney Robert Cuevas advised that the Commission could adopt legislation that would impose a penalty on the landlord, however, it would be beyond the scope of the title for this proposed resolution and should be presented in a new item. Chairman Martinez clarified that unless the County imposed a punitive penalty, then landlords would continue to not pay for water and sewer services. Commissioner Edmonson asked the Water and Sewer Department Director to meet with her to discuss possible legislation regarding action that could be taken against landlords who collected money from tenants for water and sewer services and did not use that money to pay the tenants’ water bills. Commissioner Jordan questioned how this proposed resolution would apply to a building that had one water meter for multiple housing units. Mr. Ruiz noted the new construction laws did not allow one meter for multiple housing units. He explained that the total bill for the entire building should be divided evenly by the number of total living units in older constructions that still had the one meter. He clarified that the entire bill needed to be satisfied before water services could be turned on for the entire building. Hearing no other questions or comments, the Commission proceeded to vote.

Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 4/13/2011 2B SUB. Forwarded to BCC with a favorable recommendation P
REPORT: Assistant County Attorney Geri Bonzon-Keenan read the title of the foregoing proposed resolution into the record. Chairwoman Edmonson relinquished the Chair to Vice-Chairwoman Jordan. Commissioner Sosa asked to be listed as a co-sponsor. There being no objections, the Committee proceeded to vote. Chairwoman Edmonson resumed the Chair.

County Attorney 4/5/2011 Referred Infrastructure and Land Use Committee 4/13/2011

County Attorney 4/5/2011 Assigned Sarah E. Davis 4/5/2011

Legislative Text


TITLE
RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE MIAMI-DADE WATER AND SEWER DEPARTMENT; AMENDING DEPARTMENT RULES & REGULATIONS TO CREATE BRIDGE ACCOUNTS FOR TENANT GROUPS OF MULTI-UNIT RENTAL DWELLINGS THAT MEET CERTAIN CONDITIONS

BODY

WHEREAS, this Board desires to accomplish the purposes outlined in the accompanying memorandum, a copy of which is incorporated herein by reference,
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA, that the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department will amend its Rules and Regulations to implement the changes set forth in the Implementing Order attached hereto.

OTHER
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
IMPLEMENTING ORDER

Implementing Order No.: _______
Title: WASD Bridge Account Program
Ordered: ____________________ Effective: ____________________

AUTHORITY
Miami-Dade County Ordinance 10-88

POLICY
This Implementing Order amends the Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department’s (“WASD”) Rules and Regulations to include a program that would allow WASD to establish bridge accounts for no more than six months for tenant groups in multi-unit rental dwellings. The bridge account program would be applicable to tenant groups where the tenants pay for water and sewer service through their rent but the owner of the multi-unit dwelling and/or the landlord has failed to pay the water and sewer bill and service to the building has been or will be terminated by WASD due to non-payment. In order to qualify for the bridge account program, the tenant group must designate a Tenant Representative to serve as a contact person with WASD and must pre-pay a deposit of 2.5 times the building’s average water and sewer bill for the six month period preceding termination of service and must timely pay all future bills.

PROCEDURE
The Rules and Regulations for WASD will be amended to include the following:


MDWASD Rule 1.04 - Definitions

“Multi-Unit Dwelling”- A building containing three or more dwelling units occupied by three or more tenants, but excluding nursing homes, hotels and motels.



MDWASD Rule 2.02

(8) When multiple units are served through the same meter, the water service account must be in the name of the property owner who must accept full responsibility for the payment for all service rendered, since no method is available to the Department for prorating charges for service among the occupants of the units. In the event the property owner for a Multi-Unit Dwelling becomes delinquent (see Section 2.07(7)), the Department will follow the procedures set forth in Section 2.12. In addition, if the Department terminates service pursuant to the process set forth in Section 2.12, the property owner/landlord of the Multi-Unit Dwelling cannot prevent the tenants from opening a Bridge Account for water and/or sewer service directly with the Department in the manner set forth in Rule 2.02(8)(a).

(a) Where the units served by the same meter are rental units and the rent paid by the tenants includes a charge for water and/or sewer service, and where the landlord or property owner has failed to pay the Department for water and/or sewer service and the Department has terminated water service to the property and closed the landlord/property owner’s water/sewer account, the tenants of such Multi-Unit Dwelling may establish a bridge account (“Bridge Account”) with the Department for a period of not longer than six (6) months in order to allow the tenants to pursue applicable legal remedies, which might include obtaining an injunction pursuant to Florida Statute § 83.67. Nothing in this rule eliminates the tenants’ responsibilities under the law to pay their rent during the period the bridge account is in effect.

(1) The Bridge Account will be available to the tenants as a group in lieu of the landlord/property owner only if the following conditions are met:

(i) Before the Bridge Account can be opened and the water service restored to the Multi-Unit Dwelling, the tenants must pay in full 2.5 times the average monthly bill for the entire Multi-Unit Dwelling based on taking an average from the water and sewer bills for the six (6) prior months of service for the building. The payment of 2.5 times the average monthly bill is comprised of the following: a 30-day prepayment for services and a deposit in the amount of 1.5 times the average monthly bill, which will cover any excess water service utilized by the tenants beyond the average monthly bill; and

(ii) Before the Bridge Account can be opened and the water service restored to the Multi-Unit Dwelling, the tenants must provide the name and contact information for a tenant representative (“Tenant Representative”), who will serve as the contact person with the Department on behalf of the tenants and who will receive all correspondence, notices and bills for the Bridge Account. >>After the Bridge Account has been established, the Department will mail a notice to each unit in the Multi-Unit Dwelling, which notice provides the Account Number for the Bridge Account and a phone number for the Department that can be used by the tenants to check the total amount due on the Bridge Account each month.<< 1

(2) After the conditions in Rule 2.02(8)(a)(1)(i) and (ii) above have been met and the Bridge Account has been established, the Department will read the meter after 15 days and will send the Tenant Representative a bill for the [[next 30 days of water service]] >>first 15 days of service<<. Like other accounts, once received, this bill must be paid in full within [[15]] >>20<< days after receipt of the bill if water service is to continue to be provided to the Multi-Unit Dwelling. >>Thereafter, the Department will read the meter every 30 days and provide a bill to the Tenant Representative, which will need to be paid in full within 20 days from receipt of the bill if water service is to continue to be provided to the Multi-Unit Dwelling.<< No extensions will be given; no payment plans will be allowed; and no partial payments will be accepted. Failure to pay the entire balance will result in the termination of the Bridge Account subject to the following:

(i) If the tenants fail to make full payment by the due date, the Department will apply the deposit to cover the actual amount of service used for the 30-day period that just passed (if the amount used exceeded the average monthly bill amount) and will then leave the water service running at the Multi-Unit Dwelling until the remaining balance on the deposit has been expended.

(ii) Once the deposit has been expended in full, the Bridge Account will be closed without further notice, even if six (6) months has not elapsed.

(iii) Once the deposit has been used up and the Bridge Account has been closed, it cannot be reopened for any reason.

(3) Because the Bridge Account is only available to the tenants for a period not to exceed six (6) months, the Department will use whatever remains of the deposit for the last month of service for which the tenants are eligible. If the additional monies remain from the deposit amount after payment for the last month of service, the water service will remain on at the Multi-Unit Dwelling until such amount has been fully expended, which may mean that service to the building will exceed six months. Once the deposit has been expended, the Department will close the Bridge Account.

(4) No Bridge Account will be available to the tenants of a Multi-Unit Dwelling if the Department of Health has declared the Multi-Unit Dwelling unsafe or uninhabitable, >>unless such designation by the Department of Health is based solely on the fact that the building has no water service<<. Further, no Bridge Account will be available to the tenants if the Building Official has exercised his emergency authority to order the occupants of the Multi-Unit Dwelling to vacate the premises due to a health or structural hazard pursuant to MDC Code Section 8-5(f).

This Implementing Order is hereby submitted to the Board of County Commissioners of Miami-Dade County, Florida.


County Manager


Approved by the County Attorney as
to form and legal sufficiency _______

1 The differences between the substitute and the original item are indicated as follows: words stricken through and/or [[double bracketed]] shall be deleted, words underscored and/or >>double arrowed<< constitute the amendment proposed.



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