A common question addressed to office of USCDWUA runs along these lines: "I sold my property and moved out weeks (or months) ago, and you are STILL sending me a bill. Would you like to know what you can do with that bill?" To which our answer is, “No thank you.”
This question, and its attendant ruffled feelings, results from a chronic misunderstanding among property owners, Realtors, lenders and title companies about the USCDWUA document known as a stock certificate. USCDWUA is a stock-issuing association, similar to most irrigation water companies. Your water tap is a piece of property which belongs to you. Your evidence of ownership is the stock certificate, which you should safeguard carefully against loss. It may never be important to you until you decide to sell your property, at which point it will become crucial.
The water tap is NOT automatically transferred with the property. The Association cannot transfer ownership of a water tap until several steps have taken place:
1. The reverse side of your stock certificate must be filled out assigning the stock to the buyer(s), with signatures of ALL the owners named on the front of the certificate. Alternatively, an “Assignment Separate from Stock” may be submitted, again with signatures of all owners.
2. If your stock was taken as collateral by any lending agency, you must furnish our office with written evidence from the lender that the lien has been released.
3. Your stock certificate must be returned to USCDWUA to be canceled.
4. A $50.00 transfer fee must be paid.
5. The buyer must submit an Application for Membership. This is necessary before a new stock certificate can be issued and a billing account established in the name of the buyer.
Until all the above steps are taken, the last known owner of the water tap (you) will continue to receive the bill each month. It may be that the buyer will agree to pay the water bill while paperwork is being completed. We can send the buyer a copy of the bill, but only if we know who that is. If we have not received a membership application from the buyer, we assume you are still the owner.
If your stock certificate is lost, you must furnish the Association with a lost document bond in its place. This instrument is available through insurance and bonding agencies. The purpose of the bond is to protect the Association from a future claim brought by you or your heirs, assigns, or representatives in case the original certificate was not really lost, and is later presented to the Association as proof of ownership.
A common expression pertaining to business transactions is "let the buyer beware." In this case, it might well be, "let the seller beware." Realtors and title agencies may allow you to assume that they are taking care of all these niggling details for you during a property transaction, but you should protect your own interests by personally seeing to it that your water stock is accounted for at every step of the proceedings.