water meter at my duplex

kabare13February 23, 2009

I currently am renting a duplex that has only one water meter. It is clearly stated in my lease that I (tenant) am responsible for all utlities. However when I moved in to the duplex the other side already had tenants residing in it yet the water bill was coming in the name of a tenant that lived there 2 years prior. Needless to say my neighbors had no idea that they were supposed to pay the water bill therefore they did not have a water bill in their name either. Well one day the water is shut off and my neighbors have moved out because the landlord increased their rent. I called the number on the bright pink notice that was stuck to my door only to find out the information previously stated about the meter and name on the bill.

When I contacted the "property manager" she informs me that she does not even know the person named on the bill and further more does not even know the name of the utility company. I said all that to because she also informs me that the current bill is over $600 and she is going to pay it but bill me what she thinks my portion should be since I moved in in November. Is that legal? Is it legal to have only one water meter at a duplex where you have both sides rented out and tell both tenants it is their responsibilty to have it turned on in their name.? How does that even work? Can someone plese advise me because I think I am getting scammed.

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I live in a duplex owned by a management company, too. At one time, the duplex was owned by one family, and both units had members of the same family living in them. Which is probably why all of the washer and dryer hook-ups in the basement were a mess--my washer was on my electricity but my neighbor's hot water and both dryers were on my electricity. We finally got everything sorted out with the management company. So, if at one time your duplex was family-owned, I can see how the original owners thought one water meter was enough.

The best solution for you would be for two water meters to be installed. That way, both units would pay for their own water usage. The next best solution would be for the property management company to pay for the water and to increase your rent by an amount that would cover your water usage. The worst thing that could happen would be for no changes to be made, you would have to get the water bill in your name and then try to work things out with new neighbors when you get them.

I'd contact the water company and find out how much it would cost to get a second meter installed. If it is a reasonable amount, I'd pressure the property manager to fix the situation. If they won't do that, try to get them to have their names on the bill and you pay them. If they won't do that, move when your lease is up. I would be very unhappy in a situation where my name was on a utility bill, but someone else was using that utility. I would be liable for their usage, and would have to rely on their being honest and paying their fair share. Not a good situation, in my book.

The only way to find out if the current arrangement is legal is to google tenant-landlord laws in your state.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2009 at 10:54AM
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Thank you very much for your reply and help. I totally agree with you about being on the receiving end of a water bill with 2 tenants using the water. I am unsure if the property managment company would foot the bill for a new meter or not especially since they use every "crack head" in town for maintenance, plumbing and appliances. But it is worth a try because my lease is not up until November.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 12:06AM
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Kabare, does your lease say anything about paying for water or mention water in any way? Or is water just lumped in with the other "utilities?" Every lease I have signed has had a separate paragraph for water, stating who will pay for cold water (usually the landlord) and who will pay for hot water (usually me).

This arrangement is so unusual (at least to me), with having a tenant have the water bill in his or her own name and having two separate units on the same water bill, that I'm wondering if you have grounds for breaking your lease. I would certainly never rent in a situation such as yours, and if this information was not presented to you up front, so that you could make an informed decision about renting, then you might be able to get out of this lease. I'd look into having the lease checked by a lawyer (try Legal Aid if you can't afford one), just to see if the whole thing is legit.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2009 at 9:51AM
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Does anyone know if you can put 2 water meter's in one name I have one water meter now and I need another one.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 9:52PM
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