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Old 08-16-2013, 02:11 AM   #1
nnjlandlord
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Default Gallons per day limit

Hi all-

I'm renting out a place to some new tenants in north jersey. They seem like decent folks, but have a bigger family than I originally thought. More people than we have ever had in the house (7 for a two-bedroom septic). I'm writing an amendment to the lease that says the number of gallons per day used by the tenants has to be below a certain number.

The maximum rating of the system on the engineering plans I got from the county health department is 350. What % of that number is a reasonable, standard-day's use number. Obviously we don't want the thing getting worked at max capacity all day every day. I was thinking something on the order of 200 or 250 gallons?

Thanks in advance.



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Old 08-16-2013, 03:05 AM   #2
johnjh2o
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You would be better off limiting the # of tenants that live in the home. How will you be able to determine the amount of water that is entering the septic system? Septic systems are sized according to the # of bedrooms.



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Old 08-16-2013, 04:16 AM   #3
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I doubt anyone would really follow any rule of watching gallons, if you are already stuck with these people I would at least talk to them and explain that that house was not built with 7 people in mind and the systems can not handle them and there will likely be problems if they don't keep usage down to a minimum. Also make sure you as an owner maintenance it properly and add rid X or whatever other chemical is used to help decompose the poo. You will likely run into more problems with your leach fields than the tank itself, tank can be pumped fields you just have to wait.

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Old 08-17-2013, 04:47 AM   #4
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Here's an odd question, but aren't there regulations about how many people are allowed to be in a rental unit? I think there may be rules restricting it to a certain number based on sq ft and or number of bedrooms. You might want to check the laws/regulations in your area to make sure you aren't violating any of them by having that many people in one home.

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Old 08-17-2013, 03:16 PM   #5
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Okay, I've dealt with a similar situation in the past and here's my two cents.
First of all you should contact an attorney who is familiar with Landlord/Tenant Law before drafting any amendments. Here's why.
Are there any restrictions presented in the contract as to the number of tenants, listed by name and age?
Have you done your part in ensuring that appliances such as clothes/dish washers are water efficient? Are flow restrictions on faucets and showers in place? Are all toilets updated to low flow and free from leaking defects? Are there deduction meters on water outlets that do not drain to the sewer (hose bibs, irrigation)?
Have you accurately, to the gallon, established what monthly consumption is after the above have been met?
If you did not supply the appliances for the house, are you willing to compensate the tenants for new water efficient appliances if theirs are not efficient?
Who pays the water bill? You or the tenant?

It wouldn't really be fair to impose sanctions on water use to a family after they have moved in if these things have not been considered. Even if they sign an amendment before the end of their existing lease, they may still have a legal course of action against you if you violated their rights or broke the law.
Additionally, how would you expect them to monitor their daily use? Keep a log next to the water meter? So at the end of the month they may have to say "Sorry, no clean clothes this week, Sally took a long shower after work and that birthday party clean-up used a lot of water...we don't want to violate the contract and get kicked out!"
Seriously, what would the consideration be for going over the allotted water amount? Eviction? Financial penalty?
With that being said, to me, the whole idea, for any sized family, sounds like bullskat and I would tell my landlord to pound salt, I'm looking for a new place and I'm calling an attorney.

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Old 08-17-2013, 04:01 PM   #6
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Hey guys-

Thanks for the replies. Long story short, we had almost no notice renting the house out (job moved on no notice) and we hired a realtor who really did not represent our interests very well. The renters are already in there and I did talk to a lawyer about it. Its not going to be reasonable for me to try to evict them. We can measure the water going into the septic by a water meter in the basement. Two of his kids I guess are moving out to go to college, so there will only be 5 people in the house now.

I've looked into building occupancy codes and fire codes and there still nothing to be done about the number of people.

The lawyer suggested the first thing to do is just get something in writing addressing the concerns caused by increased occupants. Revise the lease to make sure we don't get any more people in there, have the renter help out with liability insurance and try to mitigate them destroying a $20k septic system. So this is my first step. The tenants seem to want to play ball so I think we can make this work.

In the ammendment, however, we do need to put a value for gallons per day limit. My thought was maybe 75% of daily total capacity, but I'm not informed about septic system function to say if that's a reasonable value or not. I realize these systems are rated in number of bedrooms but the engineering plans do need to have a quantifiable value, which I have read is usually 140 gallons per day per bedroom. Mine is designed for 350, has 3 seepage pits and one 1000 gallon tank. The system was installed in 2008 if that helps.

Thanks again for your thoughts.

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Old 08-17-2013, 04:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caduceus View Post
Okay, I've dealt with a similar situation in the past and here's my two cents.
First of all you should contact an attorney who is familiar with Landlord/Tenant Law before drafting any amendments. Here's why.
Are there any restrictions presented in the contract as to the number of tenants, listed by name and age?
Have you done your part in ensuring that appliances such as clothes/dish washers are water efficient? Are flow restrictions on faucets and showers in place? Are all toilets updated to low flow and free from leaking defects? Are there deduction meters on water outlets that do not drain to the sewer (hose bibs, irrigation)?
Have you accurately, to the gallon, established what monthly consumption is after the above have been met?
If you did not supply the appliances for the house, are you willing to compensate the tenants for new water efficient appliances if theirs are not efficient?
Who pays the water bill? You or the tenant?

It wouldn't really be fair to impose sanctions on water use to a family after they have moved in if these things have not been considered. Even if they sign an amendment before the end of their existing lease, they may still have a legal course of action against you if you violated their rights or broke the law.
Additionally, how would you expect them to monitor their daily use? Keep a log next to the water meter? So at the end of the month they may have to say "Sorry, no clean clothes this week, Sally took a long shower after work and that birthday party clean-up used a lot of water...we don't want to violate the contract and get kicked out!"
Seriously, what would the consideration be for going over the allotted water amount? Eviction? Financial penalty?
With that being said, to me, the whole idea, for any sized family, sounds like bullskat and I would tell my landlord to pound salt, I'm looking for a new place and I'm calling an attorney.
Oh hey just saw your post.

Yes we had an attorney draft the addendum. It does state occupants at this point. The problem is these guys showed up with way more people than are reasonable for the house and when I brought it up to them they said "oh well you never asked." He's right, I'm new at it and I thought I had my interests represented. My attorney says we're in a bit of a grey area. Because they didn't list these people on the lease it is a violation and I can sue for eviction, but we have to assume that a judge is going to throw him and his 5 kids out and side with me. If that doesn't happen I'm screwed, and even if it does I'm probably out a lot of effort and money. He mentioned the better solution is to put something in writing to modify the lease. Also when it comes from a lawyer it seems like its a bit more official. The tenants are willing to play ball and I think they know they have made some errors here too. The blame doesn't fall squarely on anybody, but there certainly is some lack of common sense going on.

I just want the tenant to be mindful of the flow he's using. I'm not going to be strict about it, I will probably just ask to take a look at his first water bill and calculate per day how things are going. I had him keep track for a few days and we both agreed on 200-250 gallons per day which makes me feel comfortable and he thinks is going to be reasonable for his family. I'm just here asking if that sounds like an amount that is healthy for the system. I assume just like a car that makes 400 horsepower at 5500 rpm, that doesn't mean its a great idea to run it around town at 100% of that capacity all day long. What's reasonable for a septic?

by the way all the appliances are new. Low flow toilets, high efficiency washing machine and dishwasher. Its an efficient house.
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Old 08-18-2013, 01:08 AM   #8
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I guess what I'm getting at is, if you lived in my area, there is a required minimum to what amount of water shall be available to a home depending on the occupancy. In Allegheny County there is a required minimum of 75 gallons per person, per day. Figuring that the house has two bedrooms and assuming that two people can occupy each one, you would need to have the water system and the septic system to accept and provide, respectively, 300 gallons per day. Once you add another person, you must provide a minimum of 375 gallons per day and so forth. If the septic system is rated by the health department to receive 350 gpd max then you can only have 4 tenants max live in the house and could not have a person sign an agreement to using less than 300 gallons per day.
There lies the legality that you or your attorney may not expect. Depending on the minimum required supply for your area, you could be asking them to sign an agreement that violates a law that no addendum can rectify. You therefore could be violating their rights to minimum use for the residence. In turn, the septic system would be undersized for the occupancy and minimum required usage by having five people living there. By agreement to five occupants, one could presume that you accept that the septic system will be subjected to use above the limits dictated by the health department and you are at fault. You actually don't know these people from Adam and don't know their true emotional potential if they felt like the were being wronged. The may seem cool now, but piss them off and a good attorney could rip you apart for all sorts of violations.
It's tough being a landlord and believe me when I say that I'm just looking out for you. I've just seen a few things go wrong with a few people and clearly remember what a mess it could turn into. Maybe you could bring some of these points up to your attorney and find out the minimum requirements in your area before getting a signed document.



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