Water meter readings off

My park is in north Ohio where it is customary to read water meters once every three months and only bill back water quarterly.

I recently had manager turnover, and my new manager just read the water meters. Most of the readings came out normally with water bills in the $30-$80 range. However, about five of the meter readings are very far of: three readings are for several hundred dollars, one reading is negative, and one goes into the thousands. I figure there are 2 likely causes of this:

  1. The previous manager had read those meters wrong either because of incompetence or corruption.


  1. Residents have tampered with their meters.

It is likely a combination of the two. The one meter reading that was several thousand dollars was a new water meter too, so the only thing I can imagine is that the resident tried to tamper with it and went the wrong way and messed it up.

I’m sure I’m not the only park owner who has run into some weird meter readings. When a meter reading can’t be right, what do you do with that cycle of billing? Just give the resident free water for that round and keep and eye out that they aren’t tampering with it in the future? Or maybe bill them the average amount of water?

We read our meters every month, on the 6th, same day we pass out 10 day notice to pay or quit. When I have meters put in, we have them under the home and also at the front of the home. Whenever we note a tenant with a unusual read- we ask the manager to go back and read the front, and the underside meter. About once a quarter we read both. The readings are entered into our billing- but also into a tracking spreadsheet. It happens a meter will fail every now and then, or the wire becomes loose or dislodged. If a meter is running backwards- it is just put in backwards. So you just need to turn it around. Now take note of this- external readers most of the time read in 100s of units, and the readers UNDER the home on the meter itself will read in 10s of units. So you MUST know where the reading came from, and if you bill by the 100s- like we do- you need to do some rounding to get the under the home reading to work.

We have a hefty, $200 meter tamper fee. It happens, mostly when we shut people down for non payment. In many states you must bill on the same cycle as you- the master meter owner are billed- so be careful billing by quarter. You might also need to disclose the units used, the rate and the billing cycle. there are also, in some states, rules like- the bill must be mailed at least 15 days prior to the due date, and there can also be state mandated delinquent periods, rules for late fees, shut off fees and when you can anc can not shut off water. Like, you can not turn water off on a friday afternoon, and not show back up until monday. I also just read a new law in one state saying if your water is billed through a ‘homeowners association’ you had to offer something like a 6 month, interest free payment plan prior to shut off and legal action concerning water bills.

Good luck!

A lot of my customers went the way of wireless readers so that tampering is recognized almost instantly. Of course those types of systems aren’t cheap but it also takes away management corruption aspect.