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Gerald, Esq
Gerald, Esq, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years of experience
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In New Jersey if a water dept under estimates water bills

Customer Question

In New Jersey
if a water dept under estimates water bills for several years and the landlord pays them, how far back (years) can the water dept go to adjust the underestimated bills, and what is the correct formula he must follow given the following information?
Normally I believed the fairest way to calculate these under estimated bills would be to do an actual read today and subtract this actual water meter read number from the last known actual read of the water meter. However the town water billing cant find any actual readings on file anywhere?! i even filed an OPRA request to no avail.
The old meter was over 80 years old and they are calculating my bill from 000.00 (circa 1923) Meter) to (circa 2015) date?! Over $8,500! The new installed meter of the past 4 months accurately shows we average less than $50. monthly, and we have always paid the estimated bills of $22. per month, or about $-28 short. Please help! Thank you!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Gerald, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hello:

Thank you for using Just Answer. I want to provide you the best service I can. Please feel free to ask any follow up questions you have.

I am an attorney with 30 years of experience; I hope to provide you information that will help you in resolving your question.

Under New Jersey regulations the utility company has an obligation to periodically test the water meter. The maximum time between testing is 6 years. That time can be shortened under certain circumstances.

You have the right to file a complaint with the Public Utility Board to dispute the assessment of past water usage. It does not cost you money to file the complaint and you are entitled to a hearing to dispute the charges.

Contact the Board here:

http://www.nj.gov/bpu/assistance/index.html

You can find the New Jersey Code here (you want to look at chapter 14):

http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/njcode/

The formula for meter errors is found under § 14:3-4.6 Adjustment of charges for meter error .

You can hire an attorney to assist you but you are not required to have an attorney represent you.

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Good luck,

Please note: Information given is not legal advice. Only your local attorney can give legal advice. I can't establish or accept an attorney-client relationship with you. All posts are available for public viewing.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Gerald read their response to me. They disagree with your 6 year statue of limitation. i need more help. Joe(###) ###-####From: Viki Watson
To: jsdamiano
Cc: Eleni Pettas
Sent: Mon, Oct 5, 2015 3:30 pm
Subject: Records Request No. 252-15Mr. Damiano,
Pursuant to your records request for the last actual water meter reading prior to May 1, 2015, attached please find the record responsive to your request (1 page). Please be advised that, according to our Chief Financial Officer/Tax Collector, there is no statute of limitations concerning back payments on a water meter bill as per your request. However, for your convenience, I have attached the section of the Township Code concerning unpaid water bills.
Chapter 685: Water
§ 685-2 Readings and billings; discontinuance of service; interest on unpaid bills.
http://ecode360.com/12135406
Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call(###) ###-####
Thank you,
Viki Watson
Township of Nutley
Office of the Municipal Clerk
Phone:(###) ###-#### *****:(###) ###-####**@******.***
Expert:  Gerald, Esq replied 1 year ago.

Hello:

Thank you for the additional information and follow up question.

The regulation does not apply a statute of limitations in that sense of the phrase. The regulations require the Water Company to test their meters periodically and if they do not test the meter within the 6 year maximum time frame their bill may be challenged.

You must challenge the bill through the Public Utility Board. You must file a complaint with the Board and request a hearing to challenge the bill.

It may be that the bill is correct and that your challenge may not succeed, but you have nothing to lose in trying to challenge them

Contact the Board at the link referenced above and tell them you need to file a complaint.

Good luck.

Kind regards,

Gerald