• New Law Changes Special District Noticing Requirements for Terminating Service on Delinquent Accounts
  • December 22, 2014 | Author: Steven G. Martin
  • Law Firm: Best Best & Krieger LLP - San Diego Office
  • The noticing requirements special districts must follow to terminate delinquent residential light, heat, water or power service accounts were substantially modified by the passage of omnibus bill AB 2747 by the state Legislature. The changes will take effect on Jan. 1 and impact the notification of actual users of district services where the owner, manager or farm labor employer is the customer of record. They will apply to districts defined as agencies of the state, formed pursuant to general law or special act, for the local performance of governmental or proprietary functions within their boundaries. Cities, counties and school districts will not be affected by this law. In 2010, similar notice requirements were imposed on municipally owned utilities and private corporations by the adoption of SB 120, which revised Public Utilities Code section 11501 et seq.

    Under existing law, districts are required to make every reasonable effort to provide 10 days’ notice to the “actual users” at multi-unit residential structures, mobile home parks or farm labor camps that are supplied by individual or master meters prior to terminating service where the owner, manager or farm labor employer is the customer of record and the account is in arrears. The notice must also inform the actual users that they may become district customers if they are willing and able to assume responsibility for subsequent charges. In addition, under the existing law, districts must provide the customers of record with 10 days’ notice of termination and make good faith efforts to contact an adult residing at the customer’s premise or, if such contact is not possible, the district must either mail or post written notice 48 hours prior to the termination.

    AB 2747, expands the termination notice requirements by requiring that written notice also be provided to actual users in “single-family dwellings.” In addition, the termination notice to actual users in single-family dwellings, multiunit residential structures, mobile home parks or farm labor camps, must be written in six specifically designated languages: English, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean. Because of the changes, many districts will need to change their notification policies to address the new requirements.