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Tenant Dispute over Utility Bill Spike

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I have been living at the same apartment complex since October 1, 2008. THe apartment complex set up the bill throught a third party. I pay my water bill every month and have never had a problem. My last payment was 10/13/2010. The bill was DUE 10/15/10. The amount was 43.25 and it was paid in full. This has been our approximate payment since we moved in 2 years ago.

On Friday, October 29, we received a bill from a new third party biling company for our water bill. To clarify, our water bill includes water, sewer, gas and trash along with “administrative fees”. The bill we just received states that our water bill has now risen (in two weeks) to 126.91 and it is due November 1st. It also states that if it is not paid by the due date then (per our lease) they have the right to allocate rent monies paid toward the utility bill, charge late fees and begin eviction processes.

Our bill has always been due the 15th of the month and has never been more than 43.25. It has risen 294% WITHOUT NOTICE nor adequate explanation. The only explanation of the bill in an attached letter reads as follows: "The Water and Sewer costs are allocated to residents based on 50% on the square footage of your apartment and 50% of the occupancy in your apartment. Trash fees are charges at a prorated flat rate to every unit. All of the billing methods and fees meet with all mandated regulatory guidelines."

I called the customer service, as it states to do with questions. The gentleman I spoke with had to put me on hold only to come back and state that they had no explanation for the bill, the spike or anything. He could only say that they bill us what the apartment complex said to bill.

This is what my previous and new bill look like:

Charge Summary NWP (previous svc) Energy Billing (new svc)

Allocated Water 9.83 36.03

Water Base ----- .62

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Not clear why a "third party billing company" would be putting language on its bill about the right to credit rent received toward the bill, etc., so perhaps you mean an accompanying letter from the landlord.

If they've always had a unit meter and suddenly went to an "allocation" method, I'd also think that was odd. You don't bother to say what your lease states, by the way, and that's kinda important. :)

It's not clear what you expect folks to say -- you don't ask a question -- but I'd feel free to file a petition/suit against the landlord and ask a court to intervene and help you figure out what's what -- esp. as it relates to whatever your lease says. I wouldn't wait for the landlord to pursue you for nonpayment of rent.

First, however, I'd send the landlord a traceable letter summarizing past and present, and asking it to explain itself.

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