MISSOURI CITY, Texas - A Missouri City mother couldn't believe her last water bill. It was for more than $7,000 for their first month living in a rental home.
"I was just like, 'wow,' because I was looking at it, like this has to be a typo!" said Termeria Harrison.
But it was no typo. Harrison got hit with a $7,250 water bill after living in a rental home with her two children for one month.
"I really don’t believe that I would be able to do it. More than likely, my water would get cut off, which has me stressing right now," she said.
Harrison says the City of Houston water department left a note on her door, saying that she had a leak. She says she notified her property management firm, Main Street Renewal, which fixed the leak. But Harrison says she's called Main Street Renewal several times to get the bill paid.
"Every time I call, I’ve called them, like, I’m on the phone pretty much all day, trying to reach them. There's a long wait and when you finally get someone, they put you .on hold," said Harrison.
We asked FOX 26 Legal Analyst Chris Tritico, who is not associated with this case, whether a renter or landlord would be responsible for such a bill.
"When you lease a house, you should look very carefully at the lease before you sign, as to who is responsible for repairs before you sign," Tritico warns.
He says unless a specific repair is written into the lease, which we didn't see in Harrison's lease, it typically falls on the landlord.
"She’s still responsible for it with the city," Tritico explained. "But she has a right to come back to him and make that claim."
Meantime, Harrison filed for what's called a Leak Adjustment with the water department. A water department spokesperson tells us it is reviewing the case to see if the bill can be reduced. The spokesperson says the department can reduce a bill if the customer shows proof the repair has been made, which Harrison has.
We contacted Main Street Renewal. A representative says they were not aware of the bill, but that they will pay it, and always would in a case like this. The company asks that tenants submit bills like this in writing.
Renters who receive unusually high water bills should report them right away to the landlord and the water department.
You can ask the water department for a Leak Adjustment. Show proof of the repair and the department will consider reducing the bill.
Renters should let landlords know about any repairs made or resulting bills in writing as soon as possible.
UPDATE Oct. 6: Main Street Renewal says it has now paid the water bill in full.