5 On Your Side

Homeowner Billed for Neighbor’s Water Use

Posted September 4, 2007 6:43 p.m. EDT
Updated September 5, 2007 9:29 a.m. EDT

— No matter how much or how little water you use, you only want to pay for what you use, but a Raleigh homeowner told 5 on Your Side that is not the case for him.

Kirk Carrison and dozens of other homeowners claim they are paying for their neighbors' water use.

"It's really insane, isn't it? " Carrison said to 5 on Your Side reporter Monica Laliberte.

Carrison said the water lines to his Oaks at Bentley Ridge townhouse are crossed. He is billed for the water that one of his neighbors uses, and the neighbor gets the bill for the water he uses.

The water line problem came to Carrison's attention when he moved out, but continued to get water bills. He thought he had a water leak, so he got a plumber to come out to his townhouse. When the plumber tried to turn the water off and couldn't, he told Carrison, "You've got a big problem."

Carrison soon learned he was not the only homeowner with this problem. Seventy-one homes in the complex have water lines hooked up to the wrong meters - so 71 homeowners are paying their neighbors' water bills.

"I'm thinking, you know, how could this be?" said Carrison. "This thing was put together and approved by the city. They have to get permits, and the city comes out here and inspects, and it was approved and I wanted the city to tell me what's up."

Carrison first talked with city representatives about the problem 13 months ago, and the issue has still not been fixed.

Carrison said he refused to pay the water bill, even though the city threatened to shut off his water.

"Well, if they turn it off, so what? It's not my water," Carrison said. 

Carrison also said he just cannot figure out why a water line fix is so difficult.

"Everyone's pointing at everybody else, and the owners are stuck. It's actually our problem, and we didn't do anything," Carrison said. "We just bought here."

To get answers for the homeowners, 5 on Your Side went to Raleigh City Councilman Phillip Isley and asked him what he thought about the wrong water line connections.

"I thought it was a joke," Isley said. "Really, how does this happen? The city inspectors missed it. The water meter installers missed it. The builder missed it. The contractor who installed the plumbing missed it.

"So there's blame to be shared, I think, by everybody including the city," he said.

Isley also said that city staff is working to resolve the problem and the City Council is scheduled to take up the issue at its Wednesday meeting.

Isley said he hopes the city will look over all water bills to make adjustments if necessary. The Bentley Ridge homeowners just hope they soon will pay for only the water they use.