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TITLE 10COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
PART 1TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
CHAPTER 10UNIFORM MULTIFAMILY RULES
SUBCHAPTER FCOMPLIANCE MONITORING
RULE §10.614Utility Allowances

(a) The Department will monitor to determine if Developments comply with published rent limits which include an allowance for tenant paid utilities. For HTC, TCAP, and Exchange buildings, if the residents pay utilities directly to the Owner of the building or to a third party billing company and the amount of the bill is based on an allocation method or "Ratio Utility Billing System" (RUBS), this monthly amount will be considered a mandatory fee. For HTC, TCAP, and Exchange buildings, if the residents pay utilities directly to the Owner of the building or to a third party billing company, and the amount of the bill is based on the tenant's actual consumption, Owners may account for the utility in an allowance. The rent, plus all mandatory fees, plus an allowance for those utilities paid by the resident directly to a utility provider, must be less than or equal to the allowable limit. For HOME, Bond, HTF, and NSP buildings, Owners may account for utilities paid directly to the Owner or to a third party billing company in their utility allowance. Where residents are responsible for some or all of the utilities--other than telephone, cable, and internet--Development Owners must use a utility allowance that complies with both this section and the applicable program regulations.

(b) An Owner may not change utility allowance methods or start charging residents for a utility without prior written approval from the Department. Example 614(1): A Housing Tax Credit Development has been paying for water and sewer since the beginning of the Compliance Period. In year 8, the Owner decides to require residents to pay for water and sewer. Prior written approval from the Department is required. Any such request must include the Utility Allowance Questionnaire found on the Department's website and supporting documentation. The Department will respond by approving or denying within ninety (90) days of the date on which the party making the request has completed the questionnaire and provided all required supporting documentation and responded to any Department requests for clarification or additional information.

(c) Rural Housing Services (RHS) buildings or buildings with RHS assisted tenants. The applicable utility allowance for the Development will be determined under the method prescribed by the RHS (or successor agency). No other utility method described in this section can be used by RHS buildings or buildings with RHS assisted tenants.

(d) HUD-Regulated buildings layered with any Department program. If neither the building nor any tenant in the building receives RHS rental assistance payments, and the rents and the utility allowances of the building are reviewed by HUD (HUD-regulated building), the applicable utility allowance for all rent restricted Units in the building is the applicable HUD utility allowance. No other utility method described in this section can be used by HUD-regulated buildings.

(e) HOME units at HOME developments committed funds after August 23, 2013 must use the HUD Utility Schedule Model. The utility allowance will be calculated by the Department on an annual basis and provided to the Owner with a deadline for implementation.

(f) Other Buildings. For all other rent-restricted Units, Development Owners must use one of the methods described in paragraphs (1) - (5) of this subsection:

  (1) The utility allowance established by the applicable Public Housing Authority (PHA) for the Section 8 Existing Housing Program. The Department will utilize Texas Local Government Code, Chapter 392 to determine which PHA is the most applicable to the Development.

    (A) If the PHA publishes different schedules based on building type, the Owner is responsible for implementing the correct schedule based on the Development's building type(s). Example 614(2): The applicable PHA publishes a separate utility allowance schedule for Apartments (5+ units), one for Duplex/Townhomes and another for Single Family Homes. The Development consist of twenty buildings, ten of which are Apartments (5+ units) and the other ten buildings are Duplexes. The Owner must use the correct schedule for each building type.

    (B) In the event the PHA publishes a utility allowance schedule specifically for energy efficient units, and the Owner desires to use such a schedule, the Owner must demonstrate that the building(s) meet the housing authority's specifications for energy efficiency once every five (5) years.

    (C) If the applicable PHA allowance lists flat fees for any utility, those flat fees must be included in the calculation of the utility allowance if the resident is responsible for that utility.

    (D) If an Owner chooses to implement a methodology as described in paragraph (2), (3), (4), or (5) of this subsection, for Units occupied by Section 8 voucher holders, the utility allowance remains the applicable PHA utility allowance established by the PHA from which the household's voucher is received.

    (E) In general, if the property is located in an area that does not have a municipal, county, or regional housing authority that publishes a utility allowance schedule for the Section 8 Existing Housing Program, Owners must select an alternative methodology. In the event the property is located in an area without a clear municipal or county housing authority the Department may permit the use of another housing authority's utility allowance schedule on a case by case basis. Prior approval from the Department is required and the owner must obtain approval on an annual basis.

  (2) A written estimate from a local utility provider. If there are multiple utility companies that service the Development, the local provider must be a residential utility company that offers service to the residents of the Development requesting the methodology. The Department will use the Texas Electric Choice website: http://www.powertochoose.org/ to verify the availability of service. If the utility company is not listed as a provider in the Development's ZIP code, the request will be denied. Additionally, the estimate must be signed by the utility provider representative and specifically include all "component charges" for providing the utility service. Receipt of the information from the utility provider begins the ninety (90) day period after which the new utility allowance must be used to compute gross rent;

  (3) The HUD Utility Schedule Model. A utility estimate can be calculated by using the "HUD Utility Schedule Model" that can be found at http://www.huduser.org/portal/resources/utilmodel.html (or successor Uniform Resource Locator). Each item on the schedule must be displayed out to two decimal places. The total allowance must be rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. The rates used must be no older than the rates in effect sixty (60) days prior to the beginning of the ninety (90) day period in which the Owner intends to implement the allowance. For Owners calculating a utility allowance under this methodology, the model, along with all back-up documentation used in the model, must be submitted to the Department, on a Compact Disc or flash drive, within the timeline described in subsection (h) of this section. The date entered as the "Form Date" on the "Location" tab of the spreadsheet will be the date used to begin the ninety (90) day period after which the new utility allowance must be used to compute gross rent;

  (4) An Energy Consumption Model. The utility consumption estimate must be calculated by a properly licensed mechanical engineer or an individual holding a valid Residential Energy Service Network (RESNET) or Certified Energy Manager (CEM) certification. The individual must not be related to the Owner within the meaning of §267(b) or §707(b) of the Code. The utility consumption estimate must, at minimum, take into consideration specific factors that include, but are not limited to, Unit size, building orientation, design and materials, mechanical systems, appliances, and characteristics of building location. Use of the Energy Consumption Model is limited to the building's consumption data for the twelve (12) month period ending no earlier than sixty (60) days prior to the beginning of the ninety (90) day period and utility rates used must be no older than the rates in place sixty (60) days prior to the beginning of the ninety (90) day period. In the case of a newly constructed or renovated building with less than twelve (12) months of consumption data, the qualified professional may use consumption data for the twelve (12) month period from units of similar size and construction in the geographic area in which the building containing the units is located. The ninety (90) day period after which the new utility allowance must be used to compute gross rent will begin sixty (60) days after the end on the last month of the twelve (12) month period for which data was used to compute the estimate; and

  (5) An allowance based upon an average of the actual use of similarly constructed and sized Units in the building using actual utility usage data and rates, provided that the Development Owner has the written permission of the Department. This methodology is referred to as the "Actual Use Method."

(g) For a Development Owner to use the Actual Use Method they must:

  (1) Provide a minimum sample size of usage data for at least 5 Continuously Occupied Units of each Unit Type or 20 percent of each Unit Type whichever is greater. Example 614(3): A Development has 20 three bedroom/one bath Units, and 80 three bedroom/two bath Units. Each bedroom/bathroom equivalent Unit is within 120 square feet of the same floor area. Data must be supplied for at least five of the three bedroom/one bath Units, and sixteen of the three bedroom/two bath Units. If there are less than five Units of any Unit Type, data for 100 percent of the Unit Type must be provided;

  (2) Scan the information in subparagraphs (A) - (E) of this paragraph onto a CD and submit it to the Department no later than the beginning of the ninety (90) day period after which the Owner intends to implement the allowance, reflecting data no older than sixty (60) days prior to the ninety (90) day implementation period. Example 614(4): The utility provider releases the information regarding electric usage at Westover Townhomes on February 5, 2010. The data provided is from February 1, 2009, through January 31, 2010. The Owner must submit the information to the Department no later than March 31, 2010, for the information to be valid;

    (A) An Excel spreadsheet listing each Unit for which data was obtained to meet the minimum sample size requirement of a Unit Type, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage for each Unit, the household's move-in date, the actual kilowatt usage for each month of the twelve (12) month period for each Unit for which data was obtained, and the rates in place at the time of the submission;

    (B) A copy of the request to the utility provider (or billing entity for the utility provider) to provide usage data;

    (C) All documentation obtained from the utility provider (or billing entity for the utility provider) and/or copies of actual utility bills gathered from the residents, including all usage data not needed to meet the minimum sample size requirement and any written correspondence from the utility provider;

    (D) The rent roll showing occupancy as of the end of the month for the month in which the data was requested from the utility provider; and

    (E) Documentation of the current utility allowance used by the Development.

  (3) Upon receipt of the required information, the Department will determine if the Development Owner has provided the minimum information necessary to calculate an allowance using the Actual Use Method. If so, the Department shall calculate the utility allowance for each bedroom size using the guidelines described in subparagraphs (A) - (E) of this paragraph;

    (A) If data is obtained for more than 20 percent of all units or there are more than 5 of a Unit Type, all data will be used to calculate the allowance;

    (B) If more than twelve (12) months of data is provided for any Unit, only the data for the most current twelve (12) months will be averaged;

    (C) The allowance will be calculated by multiplying the average units of measure for the applicable utility (i.e., kilowatts over the last twelve (12) months by the current rate) for all Unit Types within that bedroom size. For example, if sufficient data is supplied for 18 two bedroom/one bath Units, and 12 two bedroom/two bath Units, the data for all 30 Units will be averaged to calculate the allowance for all two bedroom Units;

    (D) The allowance will be rounded up to the next whole dollar amount. If allowances are calculated for different utilities, each utility's allowance will be rounded up to the next whole dollar amount and then added together for the total allowance; and

    (E) If the data submitted indicates zero usage for any month, the data for that Unit will not be used to calculate the Utility Allowance.

  (4) The Department will complete its evaluation and calculation within forty-five (45) days of receipt of all the information requested in paragraph (2) of this subsection;

  (5) Receipt of approval from the Department will begin the ninety (90) day period after which the new utility allowance must be used to compute gross rent; and

  (6) For newly constructed Developments or Developments that have Units which have not been continuously occupied, the Department, on a case by case basis, may use consumption data for Units of similar size and construction in the geographic area to calculate the utility allowance.

Cont'd...

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