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Old 02-28-2018, 08:54 AM
10,265 posts, read 6,495,798 times
Reputation: 10837


a running toilet tank can use a gallon per minute or more and there are 1440 minutes in a day. Over 3 month that's almost 130,000 gallons of water.
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Old 02-28-2018, 09:43 AM
Location: North Las Vegas
230 posts, read 148,612 times
Reputation: 502
For the theory of leaving something running,they would have to leave every water source in the house running for 3 months to use almost 600k gallons of water. No way was something running. Either big leak or faulty meter readings
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Old 02-28-2018, 10:03 AM
Location: Raleigh
6,964 posts, read 5,187,171 times
Reputation: 9400
Originally Posted by jackmichigan View Post
Just because it's the law doesn't mean that someone won't use it to escape their personal obligations.

Heck, some people even file bankruptcy multiple times in order to cheat suppliers out of their rightful payments. Just because there are legal loopholes which enable people to avoid personal responsibility doesn't make it right.
It isn't exactly a loophole. Finding where a PM or LL violated a law and using it to break a lease is a loophole. The law, by its very design, is to allow servicemen and women to escape their "Personal obligations."
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:14 AM
Location: Boise, ID
8,011 posts, read 22,505,069 times
Reputation: 9212
We had a situation once where the tenant kept complaining about a periodic very high water bill. We sent our plumber on multiple occasions, and he could not find any movement on the water meter at the time of visit. He also did multiple inspections of the house and never found any evidence of a leak, or running toilets, or anything. House was on irrigation, so a yard leak would not add to the bill, but we checked that too and couldn't find anything either.

Come to find out eventually that the leak only occurred when a specific set of circumstances occurred. The hose bib had to be turned on, with a hose hooked up, but with a nozzle on the end turned off. So the hose was under pressure. That would cause the hose bib to shoot water into the crawl space, which was then draining into the ground or evaporating between inspections from the plumber.

My point is that sometimes the source of the leak can be hard to find. In this case, it took about 10 visits from a plumber over several month before he got lucky and was there one day while it was running, so he was able to find it.

We also had a different local water company inform everyone one month last year that many of the bills were sent out with exorbitant bill amounts, and if you received a bill that seemed far too high, not to pay it, and contact the water company right away. They even put it on the news for a few days to get the word out. So they definitely can make large scale mistakes.

We have also had several water leaks that were huge amounts of water. We had one that we said no way was it right. It was enough water to fill like 15-20 swimming pools in a 2 month period. We called the tenant immediately upon receiving the bill and they said no leaks, looked in the crawl space, it not only wasn't completely full of water, it was bone dry. Upon investigating, we found out that one was a leak in the main line in the yard, and it was leaking into the ground.

FYI, once we found the source of the leak and repaired it, we petitioned the water company with proof of the leak and repair and they made a large retroactive adjustment to our bill. If you eventually find there was a leak, you should at least ask whether that is an option.
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Old 02-28-2018, 11:56 AM
11,314 posts, read 5,839,816 times
Reputation: 20965
I had a hot water hose to my washing machine break when the house was unoccupied. It ran for 2 or 3 weeks and flooded everything. I had a $2,000+ water/sewer bill. With a photocopy of the insurance claim, the town refunded the sewer part of the bill but I still had a $1,000+ water bill. I used the water. It was to destroy my house but I used it.

I'm sure every city/town water department has different rules. I couldn't escape the water bill.

Lesson learned: I had the plumber install a whole house shutoff and an easily-accessed washing machine shutoff. I use the washing machine shutoff every time I use the machine and I shut the house off any time I'm gone for more than a few days.

This thread is a reminder about why I opted out of ever being a landlord. You have to factor these kinds of debacles into the whole property management equation. Your tenant isn't going to care if the toilet runs for 6 weeks while they're on winter break.
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Old 02-28-2018, 12:18 PM
7,044 posts, read 3,701,331 times
Reputation: 10061
I thought the advantage of smart meters is that you can monitor them online at any time?

While a strange leak is possible, leaks don't fix themselves so the normal usage indicated lately makes this unlikely.

My thoughts would lean to theft or sabotage. Do any neighbors have swimming pools? Are there construction projects nearby? You say outside spigots have been turned off inside but perhaps they were turned on inside by an enterprising tenant who figured out a way to "sell" your water. Like letting the neighbor fill a swimming pool or a water tanker fill their truck for $100. Or an angry tenant might have run as much water as possible to run up the bill.
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Old 02-28-2018, 02:35 PM
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,387 posts, read 50,582,032 times
Reputation: 28616
Originally Posted by Macklessdaddy View Post
For the theory of leaving something running,they would have to leave every water source in the house running for 3 months to use almost 600k gallons of water. No way was something running. Either big leak or faulty meter readings
With our Seattle water rates ($5.92/CCF) that would still only be about $1,000/month. Does that bill also include sewage treatment charges that are based on the readings? That can make a big difference, here sewage is just under $15/ccf. That can make a $1,000 water leak cost $4,000. Fortunately we are charged a flat amount for sewage on residential, it's only metered on commercial.
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:17 PM
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
8,142 posts, read 7,466,203 times
Reputation: 17044
When my pipes burst from my old beach house when we were out of town, I came home one day to a $500 water bill. Fortunately we had the house so long, they could tell it was off from our normal $35 bill and adjusted it down.

I would keep showing up at the water department and throw yourselves on their mercy.
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:26 PM
8,224 posts, read 7,160,076 times
Reputation: 7742
Small update:

Called our "old lawyer" this morning who has recently retired. He and my husband developed a friendship over the years, so it was ok to call him. He said that we should not pay the bill & hire a lawyer who will do whatever it is in court to get the bill put in escrow while the issue is being investigated/we sue.

Spoke to a friend of ours who has rentals in the same city.

Same thing happened with one of his properties after the "smart meter" was installed.

The typical bill for this property of his averaged $250/quarter. He got a $5,000.00 + bill for one quarter in 2017. He had his plumber come in and search for leaks. Found nothing. He fought with the water company/city. Didn't pay the bill until they threatened to put a tax lien on the property.

He found out a few months later that his attorney, who also owns rental properties in the city, had the same thing happen with one of his. After a smart meter was installed. He had a meeting with his lawyer late this afternoon (for some other reason) and was going to tell him that he now knows a 3rd person who was ridiculously over-charged. We have yet to hear back from him.

Our meter was changed. The same water company employee that came to read the meter came to change the meter. Yesterday he had told my husband that he was just at another property exchanging a meter out for someone who received a $3,000.00 + bill

My husband asked the water guy how often this was happening.

"We've been told we're not allowed to talk about it".

Last edited by Informed Info; 02-28-2018 at 08:13 PM..
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Old 02-28-2018, 07:38 PM
Location: Minnesota
1,651 posts, read 597,473 times
Reputation: 2953
Time to go to the local news station and get the guy to be interviewed in disguise with a reporter. They know there is a problem but still demanding payment. Write a letter to the state utilities commission. Remind them lying can be a issue, look what's happening in Flint, MI, although, IMO, not enough.
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