Disputing a Water Bill formally?

3 Replies

Need some advise please.

I have a tenant moving into my rental property today. I contacted the water department to turn on supply and they informed me I have a unpaid water for a six month period. When asked how much is was they said $5,000! They refuse to turn on the water until the paid is paid in full.

My normal bill six months is usually $500. The section 8 tenant that was living there until two months ago had been living there for over 4 years and that was her normal bills. I said to the water department they must have a faulty meter and for them to check.

They advised they removed the meter a couple of months as the supply was turned off.

My question is how do I handle this as they are taking a hardline even though I am disputing the amount / usage.

Did you normally get the bill, or was the tenant responsible for the bill?  Didn't you receive formal notice that the bill was unpaid?

Do you dispute the total amount of water used or are you asserting there is a clerical error in the billing? 

If the water was used, the utility company generally has a right to lien the property.  So unless you think you can prove a clerical error, you may have to pay it and move on.  You would not be the first landlord to have to clear a utility lien.  

Your story sounds strange, by the way.  The utility company removed the meter because the bill was unpaid?  Does that happen often?  How were you unaware that the house had no water meter for two months?  

I have seen the water meter removed if a bill is too far past due,,the question I have is can they find the meter and verify its accuracy.

I had something somewhat similiar happen, but the city checked the meter,,in this case there might not be anyway to do that,,I would ask them to look at the history of the address,,that the usage they are saying is WAY out of line.

One other thing that I discovered during my fight on a water bill, people steal water, because apparently in the manufacturing of some dope they use a lot of water,,so the city watches for crazy water usage, so its better for them to steal it from a neighbor.  


Based on the last 3 years water bills the average annual usage is $1,100. In this case its $5,000 for six months. So it is massively out of line.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.

By signing up, you indicate that you agree to the BiggerPockets Terms & Conditions.