Rising water costs take toll on renters

Some question fairness of master-metering
Published on Mar 13, 2009

Q: I have been renting a duplex unit for more than three years. A week ago, my landlord told me that the water bills have been getting very high and that she was thinking about charging me for water. My lease states that I am not responsible for water unless it's more than $30 per month. I received a bill from her recently for an entire year's worth of water bills, or almost $480. I understand that this is an average of $40 per month, but is it legal for her to back-charge me for water bills? It is a duplex with only one water meter. How can she prove that I used half of the total water? Also, I water her lawn. Should I have to pay for that as well? A: Your situation illustrates the growing challenge for the rental housing industry. Back in the 1970s, most rental housing properties were master-metered for electricity and natural gas and these utility costs were included in the rent. The increasing cost of electricity and natural gas as well as separate metering for each u...