2011 ORS § 90.537¹
Conversion of billing method for utility or service charges

(1) A landlord may unilaterally amend a rental agreement to convert a tenants existing utility or service billing method from a method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(b) to a submeter billing method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(c). The landlord must give the tenant not less than 180 days written notice before converting to a submeter billing method.

(2) A landlord must give notice as provided in ORS 90.725 (Landlord or agent access to rented space) before entering a tenants space to install or maintain a utility or service line or a submeter that measures the amount of a provided utility or service.

(3) If the cost of the tenants utility or service was included in the rent before the conversion to submeters, the landlord shall reduce the tenants rent on a pro rata basis upon the landlords first billing of the tenant using the submeter method. The rent reduction may not be less than an amount reasonably comparable to the amount of the rent previously allocated to the utility or service cost averaged over at least the preceding one year. A landlord may not convert billing to a submeter method less than one year after giving notice of a rent increase, unless the rent increase is an automatic increase provided for in a fixed term rental agreement entered into one year or more before the conversion. Before the landlord first bills the tenant using the submeter method, the landlord shall provide the tenant with written documentation from the utility or service provider showing the landlords cost for the utility or service provided to the facility during at least the preceding year.

(4) A landlord that installs submeters pursuant to this section may recover from a tenant the cost of installing the submeters, including costs to improve or repair existing utility or service system infrastructure necessitated by the installation of the submeters, only as follows:

(a) By raising the rent, as with any capital expense in the facility, except that the landlord may not raise the rent for this purpose within the first six months after installation of the submeters; or

(b) In a manufactured dwelling park, by imposing a special assessment pursuant to a written special assessment plan adopted unilaterally by the landlord. The plan may include only the landlords actual costs to be recovered on a pro rata basis from each tenant with payments due no more frequently than monthly over a period of at least 60 months. Payments must be assessed as part of the utility or service charge. The landlord must give each tenant a copy of the plan at least 90 days before the first payment is due. Payments may not be due before the completion of the installation, but must begin within six months after completion. A new tenant of a space subject to the plan may be required to make payments under the plan. Payments must end when the plan ends. The landlord is not required to provide an accounting of plan payments made during or after the end of the plan.

(5) A landlord that converts to a submeter billing method under this section from the rent billing method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(b)(C)(i) may unilaterally, and at the same time as the conversion to submeters, convert the billing for common areas to the pro rata billing method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(b)(C)(ii) by including the change in the notice required by subsection (1) of this section. If the landlord continues to use the rent billing method for common areas, the landlord may offset against the rent reduction required by subsection (3) of this section an amount that reflects the cost of serving the common areas. If the utility or service provider cannot provide an accurate cost for the service to the common areas, the landlord shall assume the cost of serving the common areas to be 20 percent of the total cost billed. This offset is not available if the landlord chooses to bill for the common areas using the pro rata method.

(6) If storm water service and wastewater service are not measured by the submeter, a landlord that installs submeters to measure water consumption under this section and converts to a submeter billing method from the rent billing method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(b)(C)(i) may continue to recover the cost of the storm water service or wastewater service in the rent or may unilaterally, and at the same time as the conversion to submeters, convert the billing for the storm water service or wastewater service to the pro rata billing method described in ORS 90.532 (Billing methods for utility or service charges) (1)(b)(C)(ii) by including the change in the notice required by subsection (1) of this section. If the landlord converts the billing for the storm water service or wastewater service to the pro rata billing method, the landlord must reduce the rent to reflect that charge, as required by subsection (3) of this section.

(7) A rental agreement amended under this section shall include language that fairly describes the provisions of this section.

(8) If a landlord installs a submeter on an existing utility or service line to a space or common area that is already served by that line, unless the installation causes a system upgrade, a local government may not assess a system development charge as defined in ORS 223.299 (Definitions for ORS 223.297 to 223.314) as a result of the installation. [2005 c.619 §9; 2009 c.816 §8; 2011 c.503 §9]