Burst water main advice

18 Replies

We have a duplex with two great tenants. 2 weeks ago both sides flooded due to broken water main in front yard. Of course it was my side of the meter so we paid about $2k to replace the entire run. Now the affected tenant has received a water bill for $527.00. Water company is refusing to adjust the bill and my tenant is asking what we’re going to do. Normal bill is about $70.00. Has anyone dealt with this before? I don’t think the tenant needs to foot the bill but man it sucks to spent another $500 since we also recently spent $3500 on an HVAC! 

@Phil Laundy . I’m a plumber here in Colorado and our water works will give a customer one get out of jail free card for main water line breaks. You might call the water company yourself and see if you can see if they can do anything at all. If not I agree with you paying the water bill maybe minus the tenants normal monthly cost.

@Phil Laundy

I know what that’s like.  I feel for you.  I agree with @Travis Gulley it's your water bill as the owner. Contact the water department and see if you can get some relief. Most departments will give you a break or at least allow you to pay over time (payment plan) maybe 3-6 months or longer; no interest tacked on.

You should pay it.

We got hit with a much higher bill & the city would NOT help at all. In fact they charged us $1200 for an emergency middle of the night shutoff & then $1500 to hook the completely NEW run to the city  main because they had to dig up the road. They insisted in a complete new run because their old lines were Lead (Pb) & had to be replaced on the owners dime. I guess property taxes paid since 1830 were not enough to cover it. We have since put utility insurance on all our properties.

@Kenneth Garrett and @Travis Gulley thanks for the replies. We already talked w/ water dept. as well as someone else we have a Good relationship With in our small town govt but to no avail. The best they’ll do is a payment plan. They wouldn’t even deduct the sewer portion of the bill?! Unless  someone advises us against it, we’ll probably just deduct the monthly repayment amount from tenant’s rent since utilities are in her name. 

"we’ll probably just deduct the monthly repayment amount from tenant’s rent since utilities are in her name"  meaning you will pay the $500 overages for her but on the payment plan set up by the water company?  I can't believe the city wouldn't give her a break after they know what happened.


My insurance agent puts utility insurance on all of the properties. It is amazingly cheap. 

Originally posted by @Pat L. :

You should pay it.

We got hit with a much higher bill & the city would NOT help at all. In fact they charged us $1200 for an emergency middle of the night shutoff & then $1500 to hook the completely NEW run to the city  main because they had to dig up the road. They insisted in a complete new run because their old lines were Lead (Pb) & had to be replaced on the owners dime. I guess property taxes paid since 1830 were not enough to cover it. We have since put utility insurance on all our properties.

 

@Phil Laundy That sucks.  I do not understand why the water company will not extend any grace.  Did you try your insurance company to cover the repair and water bill?  It may not be worth it but may be worth the phone call.   Another thought is how did this happen in the summer time?  I have had it happen in the winter in the mid-west but never in the summer time?  I would pay the bill and keep the tenant happy.  Good luck...

Mike

I had this a couple months ago and had to replace the line.  The tenant was very concerned they would get hit with a big bill but I never heard anything about so I’m guessing it wasn’t that bad and the leak didn’t seem like very much water.  I did feel obligated to pay though especially since she reported it the day after she noticed.  It took 4 days for me to settle on a company and them to get utilities marked so in total we were only looking at about a week.  

@Pat L. thanks for the tip on utility insurance. Never heard of it but will check into it. @Mike Morawski Our landlord insurance policy did not cover the damage to the property or the burst main. Agent told me if it was a primary residence we could purchase a rider that would have covered damage but not on investment property. But thanks anyway. This is why I come to bp forums - - practical advice from people who have been there. Not condescending commentary.

Just to be clear, we are definitely paying the bill, just looking for advice on possible alternative approaches to dealing with water company and if our deduction of the extra water bill through monthly rent is a wise decision or not. 

I had the same situation. As @Travis Gulley mentioned, speak with the water company. They will either waive a significant portion of the bill, or split it with you 50/50. It's a one-time courtesy accommodation. 

@Phil Laundy

If your utility is a local government, you could try going to their board/council meeting to plead your case to the elected board and ask for some relief. A lot of those elected officials have a harder time saying know to a member of the public coming in person than the people in the office do.