Landlord won't pay bill, water shut off

If you rent a home or apartment, do you know who is responsible for paying all the utility bills?

Are you sure?

If you are not, you could find your water shut off without warning, which happened to one family.

No water in entire house

When Larry Fisher turns his faucet, no water comes out at his home. There is no water for his children's baths, or for flushing the toilet.

All he has is a jug from the supermarket.

"We buy a few gallons of water, got to go back again, and now we're almost out again," a frustrated Fisher said.

Fisher and his wife Tanisha have been living without water for days, since it was shut off.

They say the landlord did not pay the water bill, even though a receipt shows they paid him this month's rent of $745.

"He says he doesn't have any funds to pay the water," Fisher explained. "So I said what are we supposed to do? He said cant you come up with the money to pay the water? I said that was supposed to be part of the agreement, that the landlord pays."

Warning for anyone who rents

It's a crisis that could hit any renter,especially if you are renting a house or 2-family, if you are not careful at move-in time.

Every state in the nation has so-called "implied habitability laws, " stating that rental units must have working plumbing and electric, and a supply of fresh water.

The laws vary from state to state but they are essentially the same, and say that the landlord is responsible for paying the water bill, unless the lease says so otherwise.

Fisher says his lease says nothing about water (we were unable to find a copy of the lease, however.)

We called the landlord, who would not agree to an interview.

However, he told us he does not have the money to pay the $220 water bill, and wants the tenants to pay, even though the water bill is in his name according to Water Works.

We contacted Water Works, and a spokeswoman said they would turn the water back on, temporarily, until they can determine who is ultimately responsible.

Tanisha Perona just wants the misery to end.

"It's difficult, I can't really brush my teeth, or take a shower, its difficult."

Alert For Renters

So don't let this happen to you: Make sure any lease you sign says in writing who is responsible for paying the utilities.

And if you still have questions, call your water and electric supplier and make sure all the bills are up to date for your rental, so you don't waste your money.
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