Monday, February 22, 2010
Help Me Howard: Meter
Have you ever got a power bill or a water bill and said that is impossible? Odds are you have, but what can you do to fight it. We have an answer, which is why we have Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser
WSVN -- If you want to become a landlord like Bruce you need to know a couple of things.
It's a lot of work and it can be expensive.
Bruce Konen: "Everyone thinks if you own property you've got money. Our bills are unreal, are taxes are $7,500 a year. It's crazy."
Bruce and Lily own a four plex. Living in one unit and renting out the other three.
Lily Konen: "Right now the tenants we have are really wonderful."
The tenants are wonderful, but the water bill for everyone has become wacko.
Lily Konen: "This when we got on Sat 102,000 gallons was when I really started freaking out. It's $1,037 I cried,"
Their water bill went from $188 a month in November to $489 in December and then just over $1,000 in January. Meaning their four plex went from using 10,000 gallons a month to 32,000 gallons to 102,000 thousand gallons in January.
Bruce Konen: "The bill more than doubled last month, and now it's ten times as much."
The Konens looked at their water meter, saw it spinning crazily and called the City of Fort Lauderdale who came out, checked and concluded the Konens had a leak.
Lily Konen: "They're saying it's something under the house. I said well $102,000 gallons of water I would notice and she said, no not necessarily."
They hired a plumber to try to find the leak, but he didn't find any major problems.
Bruce Konen: "The plumber said even if we ran the water day and night we wouldn't use 100,000 gallons of water."
Lily asked the city to come back and replace the meter, convinced it was not reading their water usage right, but the city is equally convinced the meter is fine he four plex is at fault.
Lily Konen: "How do we get the city to listen? Who do we call? How do we fight them on this?"
Well, Lily and Bruce you called the right people to get an answer. So Howard, if you are convinced you aren't using what a utility is billing you for, what do you do?
Howard Finkelstein: "After you check your house call to report there is a problem. Try to be there when they come out to inspect the meter and once you figure out whether it your fault or the utilities meter ask to have your bill adjusted. Many times they will even give you a break even if the leak is your fault."
We called the City of Fort Lauderdale about the couple's meter problem. The very next day they sent two inspectors out.
Inspector: "We're going to solve this for you."
The inspectors dropped a blue tablet in a tenants toilet which showed it was running continuously, but Bruce didn't believe a 100,000 gallons could run thru it.
Bruce Konen: "I could run my faucet full blast and it wouldn't cause that much water to be wasted, come on that's ridiculous."
So the inspectors put in a new meter and took the old meter back for testing.
Inspector: "We're going to get you some results right away."
The results, the meter was working fine. The city told us running toilet like Konans renter had could use nearly 130,000 gallons a month, but the city of Fort Lauderdale was extremely fair, they wont charge the Konans for all the water that was used, just bill them for the average amount before the toilet broke.
Bruce is thankful and is now going to make sure it doesn't happen in his other rentals.
Bruce Konen: "I'm going to change all the guts in the toilet so it'll be like a new toilet. It's suppose to be doing less than three and a half gallons the newer toilet, so hopefully we can get that back to where it should be."
Patrick Fraser: "If you think your electric or water meter is broken. If you think they are billing your too much, complain to the city or county that oversees the agency or to the Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates many utilities. Hopefully you wont have to. Hopefully they will be very fair like Fort Lauderdale was to the Konans."
Drowning in dilemmas that have left you drained? Feel flush out of options? Contact us, we cant read a meter, but we will try to bowl you over.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD: