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Alexia Esq.
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Hello. Live in Arizona and have a shared well with 2 other

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Hello. Live in Arizona and have a shared well with 2 other families. All balances and agreements are up to date (no due fees, monies and no agreements have been broken in any way), but the person that is managing the accounting for the $ and who is the same person who has the electric bill for the well under their name just sent us an email saying that they are cutting off the electricity for the well on the 15th of July (less than 2 weeks away), and even though they aren't moving, they are just removing themselves from managing anything.

I hear it as: if you don't do X, then your water will be cut off.

The well agreement doesn't not cover anything like this or termination of service of water or electricity. There is still a chance of resolving this like proper neighbors, but is there a legal recourse to have in our back pocket? It seems like we are being unjustly dumped with responsibility and threatened to have water services cut off...

Any help?

Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I thank you for your inquiry. I have been practicing law for 19+ years and look forward to assisting you.

Does the agreement obligate this "manager" to continue being the manager of the group? Is be being compensated for this responsibility?

Is the well/electric bill in this current manager's name?

 

Also, with regard to his threat, what is it that he says you have to do to prevent the well shut off?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The answers:


1. No, the agreement doesn't say anything about the 'manager' needing to continue being the manager.


2. No. They are not being compensated for being the manager


3. The electric is under the manager's name.


 


They were the first people to live, and therefore the first people to use the well about 7 years ago. And then about 4 years ago we moved in after the well agreement and everything else was already set up. When we moved in the three houses were here, but theirs was the only occupied.


 


Here is his email. Its 'nicely' worded, but I definitely read a threat -- even though, I think, a toothless one since they would be cutting off their own water here in the desert !!! Here is his email:


 


This email is to notify all of you that as of July 15, 2013 I am closing the APS account off. In order for there to continue to have power to the well one of you need to get the account setup in your name on or before July 12th. Other wise the power will be shut off on the 15th. As soon as Pam receives the final bill from APS she will pay it and then close the bank account. We need to know who will be taking over the accounting so we can have a check made out to you.

Please let me know by July 10th who is taking over.

Currently the APS account is under J@#$@$ L@#$, account number XYZ...

Thank you for stepping up


Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Do you rent this place or own it? Whose property is the well on?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

We own the house we live in. The well is actually in either the easement between 2 properties, that was 'carved out' for access to the well by all parties. If I didn't read that correctly the well is in one of the vacant lots (not in anyone's property).


 


There is a section of the agreement:


"7. Parties in Conflict: In the event that two or more parties shall engage in a conflict of interest or rights in and to the subject well-site then, all parties shall bring their grievances to a joint meeting of the then property owners of the properties described in this agreement. In the event that said conflicts cannot be resolved by said meeting, then, the parties in conflict shall bring the matter to a court of competent jursidiction so that a decision may be rendered and prevailing party/parties shall be entitled to a reimbursement of reasonable attorney's fees connected with the dispute."


 


It also references a 'Representative' that is supposed to manage the money, call meetings and manage daily activity, and that this person shall be chosen by a majority vote in a annual meeting to be held by all the parties.


 


So far its been them since they were the original family living here, and we haven't ever had one of these annual meetings.


 

Expert:  Alexia Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi again, and thank you for your responses, as well as your patience.

It is unfortunate that these issues were not better carved in stone at the time of purchase/when the property was subdivided, etc. But it is what it is. Here is the problem I am seeing. There is no contract (you state) or law (according to my research today) requiring that this current manager remain as such. You can't really force him to do things he doesn't want to do, just as he can't force you. He appears to have no obligation to keep the electric bill in his name, and can certainly cancel his contract with the utility company. However, that of course means that one of you other two pick up the obligation that this manager has been doing gratis, OR hire a third party to do it. Remember, if the first party passed away, someone else would have to pick up the responsibility in that regard also, either before or after the utility company turned off the power.

You mention that you all have been sharing duties, but it seems that this one has been forgotten, and left to this person endlessly. For whatever reason, he/she doesn't wish to do it anymore. What may be best, XXXXX XXXXX all don't agree to take turns being in charge of that account (say, 2 years each), is discussing the possibility of making the account JOINT in all 3 names, with each person obligated to pay his 1/3 in a timely fashion each month, directly to the utility company, so no one is in charge of anyone BUT himself.

If you can't come to terms before the 12th or 15th, you do run the risk of going without power - you COULD opt to take it in your name 'under protest', but with the understanding that you will be filing court papers to make this a 3-way somehow, OR that an independent trustee, of sorts, be retained to handle it (at a fee to him, of course), and that you will be seeking attorneys fees (which would likely end up being thousands of dollars) in the likely event that you prevail.

With regard to your question:
"but is there a legal recourse to have in our back pocket?"
- Not in the sense of a law holding him, the quitting manager, in servitude to you two other owners, and you indicate he is under no contractual obligation, but in the fact that if you can't get others to agree to what you believe to be fair and equitable resolution - you can take them to court and have it court ordered.

Consider also speaking with the utility company about each of you having your own meters and accounts, if that is physically possible. Yes, you'd all share the well, but the well's electric would go on where you are your house pushed the on button, and the charge would be to your account. Unless the other two opened accounts and had their own meters, no turning of of their water will result in the well servicing them - because they do not have service nor an account.

You'd still be left with problem of who oversees and instigates well checks, repairs, etc. - but it would solve your electric meter issue for now.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.

Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 11837
Experience: 19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.
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Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq.
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19 Years of Legal Practice Experience in this precise field.