Under the new Water and Sewer Bylaw, the landowners are responsible for the bill.
During their regular May 16 meeting, Vauxhall town council performed the first, second, and final readings of Bylaw 905-16, or the Water and Sewer Rates Bylaw. The bylaw is intended to regulate the terms and rates for water and sewer access for the town. The changes to the bylaw include rates and tenants, in which only the landlord is billed.
“It makes it easier for the landowner,” said Cris Burns, CAO for Vauxhall. “I’ve seen it first hand, there was six change-overs in two days here, I was like, whoa! We brought it up, and we adjusted it, just on this (part), because it took up a lot of office time.”
Under this model, because it is more of a set rate, landowners can include the fee in the tenant’s rent.
However, councillor Richard Phillips had some concerns about renters refusing to pay the added rent.
“I’m just thinking, on behalf of the landlord,” said Phillips. “If their tenant refuses to pay their utility bill, the landlord can simply allow it to go into arrears to the point where you simply shut off their water, right?”
“And then it gets put on their tax, so then the landlord still gets dinged at the end with taxes,” said Burns. “The landlord is still responsible in the end.”
“But that landlord can simply allow the water to be shut off, and let the tenant know that if he wants water (he pays),” asked Phillips.
While the tenant, according to administration, does have provincial protection from the landlord simply shutting off their water, after 30 days in arrears, the town can technically shut off the water, and they have done it before.
“I do like the way it’s through one person,” said Martin Kondor, Vauxhall councillor. “First person fails, then you got to go to the owner. The town’s going to get their money somehow, so this eliminates one step.”
“Either way, the tenant’s paying it, so they’re not getting an extra bill.”