In turn for expanding our park, the borough required us to convert from direct to master metered water/sewer. We invested significant money into our infrastructure to make that happen. Now, we are tasked with billing residents each month, which has additional direct costs. We applied a $10/mo surcharge for meter readings, billings, etc to make us whole. Immediately upon receiving these bills, residents started calling, strongly objecting to this fee. We are hearing that they are organizing and threatening a lawsuit. What do do?? Any thoughts are most appreciated!!
Go put a lawyer between you and this problem immediately. People who fight their own legal battles are a danger to themselves. Then refer any future calls about this subject to your attorney. This may be enough to take the wind out of their sails, but at the very least it will keep you from saying anything damaging that may come up in court later on.
Second, I would go back and check/re-check to be sure you are actually billing this properly. If you are, then your tenants do not have a leg to stand on. The surcharge certainly seems reasonable to me and it’s pretty common to bill that back. However, this is something worth going over with a fine toothed comb.
As long as you have not violated any state landlord tenant codes you simply hire a lawyer, as suggested, that is experienced in landlord tenant regulations and have them handle it. If you are in a state where the landlord tenant issues are overseen by some form of government board you may be able to manage the situation yourself as the landlord.
Research your state landlord/tenant regulations first.
Jkmhp2, my Husband just read this thread and suggested that you just raise the Rent in lieu of the Water Surcharge.
You can remove the $10 surcharge on the water (which will take away the lawsuit threat…and take away you paying an Attorney lots of money per hour); give the Tenants the proper amount of notice and just raise the Rent.
Unless your Laws have ‘Rent Controls’ you can raise your Rent (with proper notice) and then there would be nothing that your Tenants could do legally. They could move…but that will cost them money.
Please note that I would still contact an Attorney (just to make sure that your ducks are in a row).
We wish you the very best!
Charles, depends on the area, a lawyer can be very expensive. jkmhp2 is only trying to get $10/pad surcharge. The gain and cost may not justify this approach.
Where did you get the 10$ a month from? I believe each state has specific laws regarding the amount that you can charge for this. I would read up on the regulation and see if you are in compliance.
I’m with Kristin on this 100%.