I’m a current tenant, receiving a $400 water bill. What do I do?

22 Replies

I’m a current tenant to a house. I pay all utilities.

For September, I received a $474 water bill. I notified the landlord immediately. She said to call the water company so they can check the meter. She also told me that the previous tenant had a pipe bust, and this was their actual water bill. But she said they had it repaired. Her men came out. She called and said that they went under the house, everything was “bone dry” to wait and see what the water company said.

Yesterday the water company leaves a paper on my door. Meter is fine, all the company’s utilities are fine. At the top the gentlemen wrote “very bad water leak on water service” were talking a 22,000 gallon leak, according to my bill.

I texted a pic to the landlord, she seemed confused. Said that she thought they were only supposed to check the meter? Said that her men will be out Monday to see if they can physically read the meter, and she wants me to get the meter reading from that date they checked.

There is no bubbling on the foundation. No massive water puddles in the yard.

No water in the house leaking.

Well I have.this huge water bill that was due yesterday. What do I do???

Rent is also due.

I did recommend her to get some professionals. She said she will see if her men can trace it.

I can’t keep getting these high water bills.

Physically reading the meter??? It’s like she puts the blame on the meter.

@Brooke Reeves I would contact the water department and dispute the bill. They should be able to put the billing on hold for a month or two so you can figure out what’s going on.

Next, I’d ask the landlord to pay the bill. Obviously you’re not using that much water and there’s some issue between the water company and/or a leak. 9/10 times, the meter is correct - and it sounds like the water company proved that.

What state are you in? Most states offer a legal way to escrow part of your rent for habitability problems. But escrowing is different than just not paying rent - you want to do it right.

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Originally posted by @Brooke Reeves :

@Mike McCarthy thanks for your response. I will pay the full rent this month. Contact the water company and see what they can do. As far as putting the bill on hold... and even ask my landlord. That bill went from $50 to $400 in a month!

I am in Kentucky.

 Does your rental house have a sprinkler system? During the summer my primary house water bill goes from $60 to around $400 a month with just watering 2 times a week.  

Call your landlord and ask them to address it today.  Water is leaking and it's in your name.  At a minimum, they can shut it off at the meter, give you you the curb key, and you can turn it on and off for a day or two as repairs are arranged.  This is no different than leaving a hose running.

@Brooke Reeves  She seems to be doing the right things and had the leak dealt with.  It doesn't mean there isn't a new leak.  She wants you to read the meter, so she can see how much water is used between now and Monday when her people come (take a photo of the meter reading).  If the reading is high over the 3 days, she will know there is another leak.  It could also be a faulty meter, but that's not why she wants you to get the meter reading.

If it was $50 the month before and $400 now, talk to the water company and explain your landlord is coming out to inspect for a leak.  If there is a leak, sometimes they will forgive part of the bill.

Originally posted by @Clifford Paul:
Originally posted by @Brooke Reeves:

@Mike McCarthy thanks for your response. I will pay the full rent this month. Contact the water company and see what they can do. As far as putting the bill on hold... and even ask my landlord. That bill went from $50 to $400 in a month!

I am in Kentucky.

 Does your rental house have a sprinkler system? During the summer my primary house water bill goes from $60 to around $400 a month with just watering 2 times a week.  

 WOW.  That's crazy.  Mine goes up $30 a month in the summer when I water the grass.

The water company should be able to tell you if the water is running constantly or the meter stops sometimes. This will tell you if there is a current leak. The fact that you got a $50 bill before the $400 bill leads me to believe that the previous leak has nothing to do with this leak. Most water companies will also give you a credit against the water bill if you can prove you fixed it. 

Lastly, 21000 gallons is a lot of water (a decent sized swimming pool) but that’s still insane. As a coincidence I just went through this last month with a broken irrigation valve. (22k gallons in 12 days)  In Vegas the water bill skyrocketed from $38 to $117, so $400 seems insanely high. GL and let us know how it turns out. 

@Bill Brandt I wish they would fix it, or attempt to fix it. I recommended she get some professionals out here. She is just worried about a meter read.

I feel like some professionals would be able to tell us exactly what the problem is and where. Not her “maintenance men”.

In Akron, the city will reduce one extraordinary bill at an address every 2 or 3 years so long as you submit proof of the cause and proof that the problem has been fixed. Make sure to call or check the website of your water supplier.

Originally posted by @Theresa Harris :
Originally posted by @Clifford Paul:
Originally posted by @Brooke Reeves:

@Mike McCarthy thanks for your response. I will pay the full rent this month. Contact the water company and see what they can do. As far as putting the bill on hold... and even ask my landlord. That bill went from $50 to $400 in a month!

I am in Kentucky.

 Does your rental house have a sprinkler system? During the summer my primary house water bill goes from $60 to around $400 a month with just watering 2 times a week.  

 WOW.  That's crazy.  Mine goes up $30 a month in the summer when I water the grass.

 I have a 1.1 acre yard with  12 zones in west Texas. You just can't put 10 minutes a zone and keep the yard alive. Doesn't help that my water supplier has the highest rates in the county either.  

Well at least its not $14,000 like the people who buy a foreclosure and the previous owner left all faucets running when they were evicted.

I would tend to believe the water company guy. When he wrote ‘very bad leak’, I’d assume he’s pretty experienced in things like this. 

I think the landlord needs to get a plumber out to figure out what’s going on. My money is on a water main leak. 

Hi Brooke,

If the meter dials are spinning when all of the water is shut off there is a leak.

If they are not moving then there should be no leak past the meter.

If it's in the feed line to the house (in the yard or under the driveway, it may take a while to notice it at the surface).

If you parked a heavy moving truck on the lawn when you moved in, or they moved out it may have cracked the line under the dirt going to the house.

If the meter is spinning with the all of the house water off, you might be able to shut of the main valve and stop the flow to the meter. Then turn it back on only when you want water (to save some money until it's fixed).

Good Luck!

i doubt the water company guy checked anything besides the meter. "very bad leak" is a lazy response.

OP, is there a shut off valve between the house and the meter?

Go look at the meter yourself. It probably has spinning dials. Shut off all your water, and see if the dials are still spinning.

@Bill Brandt well, there is a huge leak! Plumbers came out and verified. Exactly where it was 2 years ago. (According to the plumber, they did the repair) water has started to leak out of the opposite side of the house, at the foundation! Landlord is trying to get the plumbing company to pay for it as well pay what is not my usage on the water bill.

I have been a Good tenant! Never late, no damages. Luckily my contract is up in December, and I will most likely leave.

Expecting my water bill to arrive with a cut off notice.

She was first notified September 13th of this problem.

Hate that it happened liked this. I planned on staying around until I bought my first quad.

I still paid full rent, even though this is happening!

Looks like there will be a court hearing about this.

What I pay to get out of my contract, my water bill alone will be more, if I hangout and she doesn’t fix it! Also my $1000 deposit.

I don’t even know what to do at this point.

Originally posted by @Brooke Reeves:

@Bill Brandt well, there is a huge leak! Plumbers came out and verified. Exactly where it was 2 years ago. (According to the plumber, they did the repair) water has started to leak out of the opposite side of the house, at the foundation! Landlord is trying to get the plumbing company to pay for it as well pay what is not my usage on the water bill.

I have been a Good tenant! Never late, no damages. Luckily my contract is up in December, and I will most likely leave.

Expecting my water bill to arrive with a cut off notice.

She was first notified September 13th of this problem.

Hate that it happened liked this. I planned on staying around until I bought my first quad.

I still paid full rent, even though this is happening!

Looks like there will be a court hearing about this.

What I pay to get out of my contract, my water bill alone will be more, if I hangout and she doesn’t fix it! Also my $1000 deposit.

I don’t even know what to do at this point.

 If your contract is up in Dec, take the time to find a new place and move out when the lease is up.  Wait and see if she's able to work it out with the water company.  Things take time.

Where is the meter?  Outside at the curb or inside?  If its inside and its spinning not stop you have a problem inside.  Is a toilet running not stop?  Turn off each valve to each fixture and try to figure out where the source is?  If the problem is inside you should see water somewhere unless a toilet is running or all the toilets are running.  Start here.

Does you meter has a shut off before and after the meter?  Turn off the shutoff and see if the meter stops.

I actually had a meter that would spin non stop, both sides where disconnected and it would still spin and no water was going thru the meter.  This was an electronic meter.

@Brooke Reeves call the water department and ask them what to do about it. Tell them you’re the tenant and the landlord confirmed a leak. They probably have a process in place to help you.

If not, the next call is to your landlord. It’s nice that they are working with the plumber and all that drama... but it’s not your problem. Ask her to pay the bill in the meantime and you’ll pay the normal $30 (or whatever) it usually is.

Lastly, if that doesn’t work, look into escrowing your rent and what your state laws are on it. You shouldn’t have to pay for it - and if I were you, I wouldn’t lay out the money since it’ll be hard/impossible to get it back.