Author Topic: Dispute with management company...need your input!  (Read 2535 times)

wanderchic

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Dispute with management company...need your input!
« on: June 27, 2014, 09:47:43 PM »
I posted about an issue with the management company about a water bill and would appreciate your input on how best to proceed.  Here's a brief background...I own a condo in a building with about 19 condo units and we all share a water meter. I'm currently renting my unit.  Over a 7 week period or so earlier this year, the water bill doubled and they weren't sure why.  Towards the end of that timeframe, the unit below me hears water running on and off so a few of the residents go searching to see where it's coming from--I find out later that my tenant allowed them to come in and they discover that the toilet is refilling with water.

So they contact me because they can't shut if off and I call a plumber to take a look. Since it's Saturday, the earliest I could get a plumber in was Sunday.  He examines my toilet and tells me there's nothing wrong with it and doesn't charge me for the visit since there's nothing to fix.  I relay this to the management company and they want to talk to the plumber.  So, I put them in touch with the plumber who unfortunately says something to the extent like, there's nothing wrong with it when I examined it but who knows...maybe it was fixed before I arrived (aargh).  Now they think my tenant fixed it before the plumber arrived.  If you know my tenant, the thought is laughable--a white collar professional and NO mechanical gene whatsoever.  No interest, no knowlege and certainly not about to go fixing a toilet and would be the first one to say so.

Even though I let the management company know that I talked to my tenant and my tenant did not fix the toilet, they want me to cover the cost of the higher water bill which comes out to $1,500.  They claim that the residents who came to my unit have credentials b/c one is in construction and one was a formerly in property management so it's most definitely my unit that caused the increase in the water bill.  The water bill returned to normal after all this happened.

I'm not sure how best to proceed.  It's possible that some portion of it was caused by my toilet but since this occured over the holidays and spikes in water bills (not quite this high) have happened before, I don't agree with them that I should cough up the entire amount. They've gotten nasty about it (saying that the plumber I got was no good, etc. and sending correspondences that demand I pay them immediately) so it's turning ugly.  Any ideas?  Thanks in advance.


mxt0133

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2014, 11:43:10 PM »
Based on your description of the scenario it looks like you are being painted as the escape goat.  They have absolutely no proof that it was your unit.  And to rack up a $1500 water bill from a faulty toilet seems unlikely.  I would go as far as calculating the refill rate of your toilet tank and see if it is even possible to use that much water in a month's time, which I have.

The average water rate is $1.50 for 1,000 gallons in the US, let's say it takes 1.6 gallons per flush.  I happen to have a 1.6gpf toilet and takes exactly 30 seconds for the tank to refill.  For my tank to use $1500 worth of water @ $1.50 per 1000 gallons, it would take:  ($1500/$1.5) = $1000 x 1000 gallons = 1 million gallons / 1.6gpf = 625,000 flushes x 30 seconds refill rate = 18.75 million seconds = 217 days.

It take my tank 217 days to rack up a $1500 water bill if it had a leak, now let's say you had a 3.5gpf tank and same refill rate, highly unlikely, it would sill take 99 days to rack up a $1500 water bill.  So based on that it ain't a leaky toilet.

As far as I see it you all bought the units and agreed to share a water bill.  You did not intentionally flush water down the toilet, sorry I couldn't help my self, just to piss everyone off.  You sent your plumber to check on it and they found nothing.  I could have easily been any other unit.  They have no proof what so ever that it was your unit.  I would tell them that I would take responsibility if there was proof that it was my unit, but until there is proof, then fuck off, as nicely as I can of course.

former player

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2014, 04:51:41 AM »
What does the legal agreement say? Personally I think it is crazy that there are 19 units on the same metre: presumably whoever constructed the units cheaped out on that.  But that being the case, if the legal agreement says there is one water bill and it is shared, then the water bill is shared including leaks.

(If there is something in the agreement about keeping in good repair/not being negligent, then you have done your bit by having a qualified plumber look at the toilet and say there is no problem.)

SDREMNGR

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2014, 07:31:04 AM »
A running toilet does not cause $1500 water bill.  MAYBE $150 water bill.  I would have the water company take a look at the meter or request investigation.  But it shouldn't be your burden.  Tell the HOA in a letter that a running toilet cannot cause a $1500 bill over a month or two and that if they try to charge you for it, you will get a lawyer to defend it.  If it goes to court, they have no case.

waltworks

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2014, 08:10:45 AM »
Your complex has a broken pipe underground somewhere, probably (is there a sprinkler system?) $1500 worth of water isn't possible to waste with a toilet in one month.

-W

Cpa Cat

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2014, 08:27:24 AM »
I would inform them in writing that they must either present me with convincing evidence that my unit caused the problem or take me to small claims, make their argument there and have a judge adjudicate it.

Outline your side - that you had a plumber in who told you the toilet was not broken; that it's not plausible that your tenant would secretly fix the toilet and then deny it. And as others have mentioned, indicate that there is no convincing evidence that it's even possible for a broken toilet to run up a $1500 water bill in so short a time.

And in the meantime, collect your own evidence. Ask for the plumber to give you a statement in writing that the toilet wasn't broken on the date he inspected it. Get a statement from your tenant (that he didn't fix the toilet and he didn't observe it running 24/7). Call the water company or do other research to back up your position that it would be impossible for a running toilet to cause the bill.

wanderchic

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Re: Dispute with management company...need your input!
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2014, 04:11:51 PM »
Mxt0133, CPA Cat, Waltworks, SDREMNGR, and former player...you guys are seriously awesome!!!  These are fantastic ideas!  As former player inicate, it IS crazy that everyone is on the same water meter.  I recall when I first moved in, someone mentioned that towards the end of the building construction, the builder went bankrupt which may explain why there aren't individual water meters.  The association has since not wanted to install individual ones b/c of the cost and they would have to change the by-laws.  I'll take a look at the by-laws to see what it says about water. 

I'll also calculate the amount of water usage over that time for my toilet using mxt0133's calculation as a template--brilliant suggestion as the maximum cost would be difficult for them to displute.  I'll collect statements from the plumber and my tenant as per Cpa Cat. SDREMNGR and Waltworks, I'll call the water company to see what may have been happening on their side.

Please know how much I appreciate your feedback.  Let me start getting some things together an I'll keep you updated.  Thanks again!