A-80595, SEPTEMBER 30, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 323

A-80595: Sep 30, 1936

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

WATER RENT - LEASED PROPERTY - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY IS AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE BY LEASE FOR PAYMENT BY IT OF WATER RENT IN CONNECTION WITH DWELLINGS AND GARAGES ERECTED ON LAND ACQUIRED AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW. UNLESS PAYMENT BY THE AUTHORITY IS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR IN THE LEASE. THE AUTHORITY IS ERECTING DWELLINGS AND PROPOSES TO RENT THE UNITS TO INDIVIDUALS OR FAMILIES FOR DWELLING PURPOSES. IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE PREMISES BE FURNISHED WITH WATER FOR THE USE OF ITS OCCUPANTS. IF THE BILL IS NOT PAID ON OR BEFORE A CERTAIN DATE. THE WATER IS IMMEDIATELY CUT OFF. MOST OF THE TENANTS WHICH THE AUTHORITY HAS OR WILL HAVE OCCUPYING ITS HOUSES ARE THOSE OF THE LOW-INCOME GROUP.

A-80595, SEPTEMBER 30, 1936, 16 COMP. GEN. 323

WATER RENT - LEASED PROPERTY - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY IS AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE BY LEASE FOR PAYMENT BY IT OF WATER RENT IN CONNECTION WITH DWELLINGS AND GARAGES ERECTED ON LAND ACQUIRED AS AUTHORIZED BY LAW, THE MONTHLY RENTAL TO THE TENANT TO BE INCREASED ACCORDINGLY, BUT, UNLESS PAYMENT BY THE AUTHORITY IS SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR IN THE LEASE, SUCH PAYMENTS MAY NOT BE MADE EXCEPT WHERE NECESSARY TO RESTORE WATER SERVICE UPON VACATION OF THE PREMISES BY THE LESSEE.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE CHAIRMAN, ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, SEPTEMBER 30, 1936:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 14, 1936, AS FOLLOWS:

THE ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY, ACTING BY AND UNDER THE AUTHORITY CONFERRED UPON IT BY SECTION 1 OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING ACT, APPROVED JUNE 12, 1934, HAS BECOME THE OWNER OF SEVERAL PROPERTIES IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

IN SOME INSTANCES, ON THE PROPERTY SO ACQUIRED, THE AUTHORITY HAS ERECTED PUBLIC STORAGE GARAGES THEREON, AND RENTS THE SPACE THEREIN TO OWNERS OF AUTOMOBILES FOR STORAGE PURPOSES. IN OTHER INSTANCES, THE AUTHORITY IS ERECTING DWELLINGS AND PROPOSES TO RENT THE UNITS TO INDIVIDUALS OR FAMILIES FOR DWELLING PURPOSES. IN BOTH INSTANCES, IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE PREMISES BE FURNISHED WITH WATER FOR THE USE OF ITS OCCUPANTS.

THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ORDINARILY BILLS THE OWNER OF PREMISES FOR THE WATER RENT, BUT IN SOME CASES IT BILLS THE OCCUPANTS. HOWEVER, IN EITHER INSTANCE, IF THE BILL IS NOT PAID ON OR BEFORE A CERTAIN DATE, THE WATER IS IMMEDIATELY CUT OFF.

MOST OF THE TENANTS WHICH THE AUTHORITY HAS OR WILL HAVE OCCUPYING ITS HOUSES ARE THOSE OF THE LOW-INCOME GROUP. HOWEVER, ITS TENANTS OF ALL PROPERTIES WILL NOT BE CONFINED TO THIS GROUP ALONE, AS IN THE CASE OF THE RENTAL OF STORAGE GARAGES. THEREFORE, IF ANY WATER RENT IS TO BE CHARGED THE TENANTS OCCUPYING THE DWELLING HOUSES, THE MAJORITY OF THEM WOULD BE ABLE TO PAY THE WATER RENT ONLY ON A MONTHLY BASIS ADDED ON TO THEIR RENT. OBVIOUSLY, FOR VARIOUS REASONS, THIS METHOD WOULD BE PREFERABLE AND TO THE BEST INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES. THEREFORE THE AUTHORITY HAS TWO QUESTIONS IT WISHES TO PROPOUND TO YOU FOR YOUR OPINION IN ORDER THAT IT MAY BE PROPERLY GUIDED IN THE EXPENDITURE OF ITS FUNDS:

1. MAY THE ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY EXPEND ITS FUNDS FOR THE PAYMENT OF WATER RENT FOR WATER FURNISHED BY THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA? (THE AUTHORITY WOULD IN TURN CHARGE THE TENANT SO MUCH PER MONTH FOR THE WATER AND INCLUDE SUCH CHARGE IN THE RENT.)

2. IF THE ABOVE QUESTION IS ANSWERED IN THE NEGATIVE, THEN, MAY THE ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY COLLECT THE WATER RENT FROM THE TENANT ON A MONTHLY BASIS, KEEPING THE SUM SO COLLECTED IN A SEPARATE FUND AND, ACTING AS THE AGENT FOR THE TENANT, AT THE END OF THE YEAR PAY THE WATER BILL OR RENT OUT OF FUNDS SO COLLECTED?

THE FIRST DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATION ACT, FISCAL YEAR 1936, APPROVED JUNE 22, 1936, PROVIDES WITH RESPECT TO THE USES OF THE FUNDS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY AS FOLLOWS:

THE UNEXPENDED BALANCE OF THE "CONVERSION OF INHABITED ALLEYS FUND" OF $500,000 ESTABLISHED PURSUANT TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING ACT, APPROVED JUNE 12, 1934, IS HEREBY CONTINUED AVAILABLE FOR THE PURPOSES OF SAID ACT UNTIL JUNE 30, 1937, TOGETHER WITH ALL RECEIPTS DERIVED FROM SALES, LEASES, OR OTHER SOURCES, PRIOR TO JUNE 30, 1937, AS AUTHORIZED IN SECTION 3 (B) OF SAID ACT.

THIS MAKES AVAILABLE UNTIL JUNE 30, 1937, FOR THE PURPOSES OF THE ACT CREATING THE AUTHORITY, 48 STAT. 930, THE UNEXPENDED BALANCES OF THE FUNDS ALLOCATED TO THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ALLEY DWELLING AUTHORITY, TOGETHER WILL ALL RECEIPTS DERIVED FROM SALES, LEASES, OR OTHER SOURCES, PRIOR TO THAT DATE. AMONG OTHER PURPOSES OF THE CITED ACT, SECTION 1 (C) THEREOF PROVIDES THAT:

TO LEASE, RENT, MAINTAIN, EQUIP, MANAGE, EXCHANGE, SELL, OR CONVEY ANY SUCH LANDS, BUILDINGS, OR STRUCTURES UPON SUCH TERMS AND CONDITIONS AS HE MAY DETERMINE: * * *

IN THE ABSENCE OF AN ARRANGEMENT TO THE CONTRARY BETWEEN A LANDLORD AND A TENANT, THE TENANT IS PRIMARILY LIABLE FOR WATER RENT AND EVEN THOUGH FOR OBVIOUS REASONS IT WOULD BE UNDESIRABLE AND NOT IN THE INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE IN ITS LEASES THAT IT PAY THE WATER RENT, YET IT WOULD APPEAR THAT IT WOULD HAVE AUTHORITY TO SO PROVIDE UNDER SAID SECTION 1 (C), AND THAT IN SUCH EVENT THE FUNDS OF THE AUTHORITY WOULD BE AVAILABLE FOR PAYING SAME. HOWEVER, SHOULD SUCH A COURSE BE FOLLOWED BY THE AUTHORITY WITH RESPECT TO THE LEASING OF ANY PROPERTY, IT IS SUGGESTED THAT IT BE CONFINED TO THOSE PROPERTIES WHERE IT IS REASONABLY CERTAIN THAT THE WATER RENT CHARGE WOULD NOT EXCEED THE MINIMUM CHARGE FOR WATER, SINCE IN CASES WHERE THE MINIMUM CHARGE IS EXCEEDED AND IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW IN ADVANCE WHAT THE WATER RENT CHARGE WOULD BE, IT MIGHT RESULT THAT THE AMOUNT ADDED TO THE MONTHLY RENTAL TO COVER THE WATER RENT CHARGE WOULD BE INSUFFICIENT FOR THAT PURPOSE.

IT IS NOTED THAT THE FORM OF LEASE WHICH YOU SUBMITTED HERE WITH YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 7, 1936, AND WITH RESPECT TO WHICH YOU WERE INFORMED BY DECISION OF JUNE 10, 1936, A-73635, 15 COMP. GEN. 1073, THAT LEASE FORMS FOR CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF SAID SECTION 1 (C) OF THE ACT CREATING THE AUTHORITY ARE NOT REQUIRED TO BE APPROVED BY THIS OFFICE, APPEARS TO CONTAIN NO EXPRESS PROVISION RELATIVE TO WATER RENTS. THE GENERAL RULE APPEARS TO BE THAT IN THE ABSENCE OF AN EXPRESS ARRANGEMENT BETWEEN A LANDLORD AND A TENANT AS TO THE PAYMENT OF WATER RENT, THERE IS NO LIABILITY ON THE PART OF THE LANDLORD TO PAY FOR WATER SUPPLIED THE TENANT. SEE 67 C.J. 1263. IT WOULD THUS APPEAR THAT UNDER THE FORM OF LEASE REFERRED TO THE TENANT WOULD BE PRIMARILY LIABLE FOR THE WATER RENT. ACCORDINGLY, IN SUCH INSTANCES, THERE WOULD APPEAR TO BE NO BASIS OR AUTHORITY TO EXPEND THE FUNDS OF THE AUTHORITY FOR THE PAYMENT OF WATER RENT FOR WATER FURNISHED A TENANT. HOWEVER, IN CASES WHERE A TENANT HAS VACATED VOLUNTARILY OR HAS BEEN DISPOSSESSED FROM PROPERTY LEASED TO HIM BY THE AUTHORITY AND HAS LEFT UNPAID A WATER RENT BILL INCURRED DURING THE TENANCY AND AS A RESULT THE WATER HAS BEEN CUT OFF AND IT SHOULD BECOME NECESSARY TO PAY SUCH UNPAID BILL IN ORDER TO RESTORE THE WATER SERVICE, NO OBJECTION WILL BE MADE BY THIS OFFICE TO THE USE OF THE FUNDS OF THE AUTHORITY THEREFOR.