I just got off the phone with an ISTA service representative because my utility bill has increased from ~$85...
If you live in California and feel wronged by your submeter billing company/property management company regarding your water, gas, and electric bill, here are some laws that you need to know.
1. If you cannot walk to your meter and read it without the help of any tools or a ladder, this is an illegal installation.
2. If your meter does not have a Weights and Measures sticker or a lead seal with a date on one side and a county mark on the other, your meters have never been tested and they are being used illegally.
3. If your meter is not on the California Type Approved list (see link), It is illegal. http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/dms/programs/ctep/CTEPApprovals/caApprovals.pdf
4. If the meter reads on your monthly bill does not match your meter, it is Illegal
5. If you are paying to heat the hot water or are getting a heat preparation/energy charge, it is illegal.
6. If the rates on the bill differ from the local utility provider, it is illegal.
If any of these pertain to you or you feel wronged by the billing company, call your County Weights and Measures inspector. They will come out to your property and inspect the site. You can do this confidentially so the property manager cannot retaliate against you. Breaking the above mentioned laws is a criminal offense. Once you find out that you are being billed illegally, you can then take the billing company and the property management company to small claims court and sue for a complete refund of all monies paid for the utility.
Here is the link to find your local Weights and Measures inspector.
With all of your help, we can get some fair water billing here in California.