5 On Your Side

Lease mistake causes flood of trouble

Posted December 17, 2008 5:20 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2008 6:24 p.m. EST

— A mistake left some Raleigh apartment residents being told to pay for water despite the fact it was included in their leases. In Myrtle Campbell’s case, her water got turned off.

“I had to go to my friend's house to take showers. And it was very inconvenient for us,” said Campbell.

The issue came up several weeks earlier, when Campbell got a memo from the Stony Brook apartment complex warning residents they had three weeks to "transfer the utilities" into their names or service would be "terminated."

Campbell and other residents have leases clearly stating water and sewer are included in the rent.

“How can someone do that to us? I mean, already in our rent that it is included. The water is included, so how can they make us pay for the water and be responsible for it?” Campbell said.

Campbell said the apartment manager told her to make the switch or the water would be shut off. She contacted the Raleigh Housing Authority, which oversees the complex, but says she did not hear back.

When her water was cut off, Campbell called 5 on Your Side and posted a flyer telling other residents to do the same.

“I cannot afford another bill. I am on a fixed income,” Campbell said.

Housing Authority spokeswoman Alison Hapgood told 5 on Your Side the whole thing was a "mistake" and the authority was already working to fix it. That same day, the authority sent residents a new letter saying the previous one was "sent ... in error."

“They began to knock on people's doors asking them if their water is on,” Campbell said.

For now, Campbell and others won't have to pay extra for water.

Stony Brook Apartments paid the water bills of those residents who had switched over their water service. The housing authority said that going forward as people's leases are up, they will not continue to include water service. Residents will then have to put water service in their names and pay their own water bills.