Landlord overcharging water bill to tentant

By happyhomegirl

Landlord is charging us $7.00/1000 gal + $10"fee" + sewer on water bill, when the city’s rate is only $3.95/1000 gal for water, I called the city and they know he is doing this to all his tenants but say they can’t do anything about it. Does this fall under any law or regulation?

When we moved in he told us that he would read our meter and then "bill" us for water. I figured that he was being billed by the city and then would just figure out what each person owed by their own individual meter. Which he is doing to a point, the difference is, he not only charges us a $10 (for reading our meters so he can get his money back) but then he charges $3.05 more per 1000 gallons of water! We already are paying $700 for rent for a 198something trailer, that has more problems cropping up that we didn’t see when we first rented the place. He still hasn’t come to fix the screen door. Needless to say $700 month more than pays for water and rent on the place.

Does anybody else have a problem with a landlord over charging for (reselling water)? Because wouldn’t that be right? If he is making a profit on the water usage, isn’t that reselling a portion of the water for a profit?

Is this illegal? I already know it isn’t right and is a rip-off but how can he get away with doing this and what keeps him from charging more????


Edited on: Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 8:55 pm

10 Responses to “Landlord overcharging water bill to tentant”

My response: (We welcome stories, examples, explanations, answers and a touch of your personality)


May 12th, 2010 10:35 am

Ok, lets get started.  First,  if your landlord is sub-metering (meaning there is a master meter and meters to each unit) then under most state laws cannot charge more than the amount per 1000 gallons charged to him plus the service fees.  IF there is a sewer fee based on water usage, he may include that fee under sub-metered values as well.
There are caveats,  He MUST have ONLY your water on the meter.  He cannot have ANY other unit or any common area water involved.  You MUST check to be sure of this first. Usually he  cannot charge more to the tenants in total than the percentage used for direct tenant use. This means that a laundry area, lawns, clubhouse, pool and other common areas must be paid 100% by the landlord, not by the tenants.
In many places a landlord (only a mobile home landlord it seems) may charge a nominal fee for meter reading and calculations.  This is usually in the 5-10 dollar per month range.
Where to start to figure all this out. Start with your PUC and work down to the city or county.  Be sure and contact the county District Atourney office if you find ANYTHING that might be illegal.  You want as MANY tenants as possible (without the landlord finding out) to make formal complaints for violation of law (if he has done so).  This will sure prosecution.  Once prosecution begins make sure you stand tall.  Most states have anti-harassment laws for whistle blowers (they cannot evict unless you don’t pay rent.
The last item.. things that need fixed.  MAKE SURE everything is in writing.  Read and know your rights. Some items not being fixed create “untenable” circumstances. This usually means that X number of days after notification rent actually stops until the item is fixed.  Be sure and send in writing to the landlord, certified mail and quote the statute or ordinance number at least that allows non payment by tenant.   IF an untenable condition exists under law, and the law allows, as soon as he has failed to fix in legal time, you need to send notice again that rent has ceased until repaired pursuant to your letter of (date) and NAME COMPANY failure to provide tenable dwelling.  It is a god idea to also let them know that any action taken by them to interfere with your “peaceful enjoyment” or to attempt to cause you to leave the property will be dealt with by legal response and demand of damages as allowed under law and awarded by jury.  That usually puts them in a different position.  Also..keep a very small recording device when you talk to management or they come to your door or in the public areas.
No person has right to privacy in a public not invite them in to talk… make them stay public or have a total of three people there, two that know of the recording.  This usually makes recordings legal in every state. Such recordings can raise award values significantly in court.  Never threaten and never tel anyone except your attorney that you have recordings.  In fact your attorney can have you make statements before any court as to what transpired and probably keep the recordings secret until the latest time before trial.  Yu can order your attorney NOT to disclose until just before the required time.


May 12th, 2010 11:13 am

I forgot..remember that if there are NO fees stated in your lease agreement then the owner  must abide the law. If  the values are stated in the lease then the lease paragraph must be according to law or it will be deleted usually in court.

Also remember that if you get into this deeply …5 tenants can create a class action suit….and cause forensic examination of the billings for the last 7 years at HIS cost if you can show any violation!


May 13th, 2010 3:57 pm

That’s great advice.  You really put some time into that response.  Very educational!  I did some research on the water meter issue and found that your response is solid.
The only thing I was going to add was that the landlord doesn’t have any water rights.  That is something that the city, county or state owns.   Water is heavily regulated by the government.  I’m in shock that your water company is not jumping all over this landlord.  I couldn’t get away with that here.  (Bakersfield CA)
Your greedy landlord is exactly why the rest of us landlords are given a bad name.  What a unethical guy!


May 13th, 2010 8:00 pm

What’s next, the sewer?  Now your landlord will adapt some device to your sewer line so he can charge you a surcharge for your sewer waste.
Flush away before you landlord taxes your toilet use!
Who is this landlord?  You should list his name and details so that when people google him it will show this post.
The Landlord Tax, that’s new to me.  He actually thinks he can charge for water?? Weirdo!


May 21st, 2010 10:40 pm

Thank you for your replies. I knew this was wrong but I didn’t know exactly how to go about doing anything about it. He is a realtor and landlord and the town is smaller, a little over 16,000 people. I will be getting a lawyer from the next town over just to be safe.

We have found out also on top of the water bill problem that he apparently doesn’t give deposits back.

On the water bill he charges a $10 “fee” plus sewer, sanitation and then the water bill. I didn’t pay attention to the “rate” on our first bills because even though they were higher than what we pay at our house they were only $10 higher and I chalked this up to the “fee”. But when we get the bill for $103 that’s when we stopped to take notice. I am not sure what his game is but on an old website of his he mentions a book, “The Little Wow! Book on House Investing” by by Carlos Royal.  Here is his response to the book,
 “Wow! Thank you for writing this book for me as a real estate investor. All of the ideas, tidbits of wisdom, and sound principles have helped me and my wife tremendously. The format has made it so easy to understand AND to apply, I believe most people looking
to invest can achieve success by using this valuable tool! We bought our first investment house within 30 days of reading your book.”  Dave and Lyndell B., of Dickinson, ND
I am curious about what they learned!! (Full name Dave and Lyndell Bauer)
Here is a response off of their “old” website: 
 10/12/2009  12:24 h :DO NOT RENT BAUER. I’ve not known ONE person that has received their entire deposit back, and a couple of them left the apartment CLEANER than when they got it.
 05/19/2010  11:03 h  : if you claim to be a christian and be apart of a church why do you not give the full amount of deposit back? why do you not fix up the apartments? are you seriously that much of a money hog? ive seen your house its like a mansion! you need to go to some kind of therapy or something because you being a money hog and owning pretty much every apartment available is like a gambling problem. STOP UPING YOUR RENT AND START ACTING LIKE A CHRISTIAN AND DOING THE RIGHT THING YOUR SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE FOR YOUR FAMILY AND THATS JUST PLAIN MESSED UP!
This is very sad. They now have a new website that does not allow “comments”. lol

I am in OK getting our house ready to sell, the reason we are renting in the first place, since it has to sell before we can buy, but am going to ND next week, I am going to read the lease again, but I do not recall anything about the water bill. He told us in person that he would bill us. The only stipulation that I can see in the lease that upset me, which is why probably nobody is getting their deposit back is he requires a PROFESSIONAL Carapet Cleaner and you have to have the receipts to prove it when you move out, which is laughable considering when we moved into our trailer the carpet smells of smoke and our son’s bedroom smells of pet urine, he doesn’t clean it before you move in. We were in a rush but he still kept us waiting to move in, not sure what for.

Anyway, as you can see he is a problem, he owns practically everything in town so there isn’t much choice, plus finding a rental was difficult in the economic situation in North Dakota, the oil field is booming and everyone is moving in. We were lucky to find what we did because we also own pets (which for the first time in 18 years and 16 moves, thinking of giving our pets up so we have more choice in where we can live).

I may contact you more if I have questions. Thank you  for you information, it is greatly appreciated. I will try to keep you informed on how it goes.


March 18th, 2011 1:46 pm

we are having similar issues with a water bill we refused to pay after two years of paying and finding out that our water company is really a billing company. We did have a clause on our lease that we didn’t even realize that said we would have to pay $50/month for water. It became more than that as they charge $10 extra for fees…and we were paying close to $70/month. Now they are suing us for the water bill for two years. I know this has to be illegal…it certainly seems to be against our right to choose water companies as a consumer…I cannot for life of me rember the name for it but it is concerning consumer purchacing and monolopies….basically it is against the law to monopolize your utility choice. look up on line “U.S. statutes on monopolies” you will find it there. However I am still at war with this company and have asked for their metered reading…which they provided a 3 month daily usage on an excel spread sheet with NWP services corp for the Pointe at Neptune. Interesting how the usage is always at either 100, 150, 50 , 250…every day….not 101 or 211 or 54….do you get my drift here? It’s not the point that I do not wish to pay for my usage….I just what it to be right!!!
I gave these people close to $70,000 if not more in rent in the last 3 1/2 years….it’s time renters are treated fairly! I jsut looke up the laws called Anti-trus tlaws prdatory pricing tying, price gouging and refusal to deal


December 7th, 2011 3:13 am

Hey, not all landlords are greedy. I sub-meter my apartments, and bill monthly the EXACT rate I am charged by the regional water provider; no EXTRA fees at all.
And even at that, I now have a tenant who is refusing to pay for the water he uses, saying it is not his “fair share”, give me a break on all this liberal social crap!!
He now he has been given a certified letter (return receipt) saying that in 5 days from the receipt of said letter his water service will be disconnected for lack of payment. (fully legal in all states). plus if the water is shut off we only charge a $10 reconnect fee, plus a $50 security deposit to apply towards his final bill when he moves.
Other than this issue, he is a GREAT tenant! extremely quiet. But hey……… if being a landlord were easy, everyone would do it.

Monica S.

May 27th, 2012 6:44 pm

You should check state laws. They may define the reselling of the public utility as operating a Private water company. And there are standards for safety and accuracy, I’m sure. Also, there would be standards for what can be charged, and how much. For example, why a $10 fee. In Md. only $1 can be charged if anything. They are doing nothing but billing you. And $103 makes no sense. Who knows if their pipes are within standards? You are not a pipe expert. Therefore, there must be some state standards. Plus, if they are required to register as a Private water company, and they are not registered, then no one can say they are accurate. They are illegal.


September 14th, 2012 10:04 am

i think you are giving ‘liberal social crap’ a bad name. if someone used something, and it was metered, it’s their fair share and they gotta pay. even in liberal social places, like canada. and norway.


January 3rd, 2014 12:06 pm

i am having kind of the same issue the area i am renting doesnt have a water meter for any of the propertys and he is charging everyone 80-100 dollars for water… everyone i try to contact says they do not know what to do since he doesnt list out a rate for how much water im using or the fact there is no water meter to back up my claim. ive tried to contact the district attorney office but no help they said they are not sure where to report such a thing… so am i just stuck paying 100 dollars in water even though i know im not using that much i rented a house and only payed 30 for water and sewerage


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