Must each tenant be given their own water bill or meter usage?

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Must each tenant be given their own water bill or meter usage?

We are living in an apartment complex and our water bill is unusually high. When we asked around we found out that they don’t have individual meters for each apartment, instead they have 1 meter for 10 apartments and split it between the tenants. Most tenants have a laundry machine and use a considerable about of water. We do not use much water and are paying 3 times what we use to pay when we had a house. Is this legal? Can they charge us without presenting a meter usage for our apartment?

Asked on August 18, 2011 Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is completely legal, as long as your lease does not either explicitly or implicitly/indirectly require you to have your own meter. The law allows people to apportion costs however they like--pool utilities, for example, and share them is as legal as everyone pays their own way. The issue is one of contract law--what exactly did you and the landlord agree to? You should review your lease to see exactly what it says about utilities; if it's unclear how it should be interpreted or what it means, bring the lease to an attorney to review it with you. Note however that in the event you and the landlord end up disagreeing--you believing you should only pay for your own, him believing the total is divided evenly--you may find yourself engaged in litigation, the cost of which could easily exceed whatever you hope to recover.


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