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Infolawyer
Infolawyer, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 6779
Experience:  Licensed attorney helping individuals and businesses.
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My landlord never mentioned to me the fact that our water

Customer Question

My landlord never mentioned to me the fact that our water bill would include a $70 minimum charge every month regardless if we even used a single drop of water or not. That is a large undisclosed sum for us to afford. They said it was my responsibility to find out on our own. What can we do??? We lease the house that they personally own and signed a one year contract. We live in California. The utilities were put in our name. I called the water company and asked why the bills were so large and they explained that our particular community has mandatory minimum charges and is one of the few in all of southern California to do so. None of this was ever mentioned until six months later when I finally was told by the water company.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

Welcome and thank you for your question. I will be the professional that will be assisting you. What does your lease state, if anything with regard to water? Where is the property located in CA?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
It is located in San Diego. We live in Mira Mesa. The lease mentions nothing about utilities.
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

Usually the lease sets out who is responsible for utilities. How did you know that the utilities were required to be in your name?

Let me check on this community and with water company this seems high unless the property is located within a Home Owners Association? What is the name of the water company servicing your area?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
They simply said that we would be responsible for utilities on our own
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
We live on Revelstoke Way
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

I am trying to determine if the home is part of an HOA. I also need the name of the company that provides water service to your home.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
here is the lease attached
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

Thank you. Give me a moment please.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I have a wife, two small children under age 2, and a golden retriever. They constantly threaten to evict us and show up at the house if we keep asking questions about this. This is a large amount of money for us each month. The water company said "even if you leave the home for a month and don't use a drop, we would still charge you each month that minimum"
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I subtracted the $70 from our monthly rent and they said if we did not pay them by the end of the day today since it is the last of the month, we are evicted and need to leave.
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

It does not appear that this property is in an HOA community. Can you tell me the name of the water company?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The city of San Diego Water and Wastewater Services
public utilities
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

Perfect. Give me a moment.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
the city of san diego public utilities department(###) ###-####
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

The first issue is that you must pay your landlord the full amount of rent or you can be evicted. If you feel the water bills should have been disclosed that is a matter that needs to be decided by a court, The fact that you are deducting money from your rent is an issue. This does not mean that I agree with your landlord. You should have been made aware of this when you placed the water in your name. The question becomes is this an issue between you and the landlord or you and the water company. I would suggest bringing your lease payments up to date to avoid eviction or see if the landlord will permit you to terminate the lease. Utilities that are the responsibility of the tenant need are not part of your rent.

Let me check on this alleged minimum rule so you can dispute this charge.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I am willing to pay the amount today, but I need to know if they continue to take advantage and force me to pay this $70 more each month. It is a fixed additional cost to the home regardless of me or anyone else being there. Never mentioned nor discussed. When provided proof and told, they said too bad. They know we do not have the money to come up with another $10,000 to move again right now and with the holidays and on short notice. There has to be laws in place to protect tenants against predatory landlords.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I have that link and got that within a one minute google search. I read all of it. I did not see anything pertaining to our issue. This is why I reached out to you. I need help above this link which does not address these issues. It only discusses from what I can see, the problem with shared utility charges in a duplex or fourplex.
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I need something I can reference to defend ourselves. A code or quoted laws about disclosing costs beforehand specific to utilities etc...
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

I am looking for the code. The only thing I see thus far is a new customer service fee. I will figure this out.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Are you still there?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Are you there?
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

Yes, I am reading the code.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Anything?
Expert:  attyadvisor replied 7 months ago.

I was reading through the code and every time you send a message the site kicks me off. Let me ask the moderator to provide you with an Attorney in the San Diego area and opt out.

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