In 2016, Odilio Moreira boarded up a house he bought in Goulds and shut down water service at the property. So you can imagine his surprise when he received a bill for thousands of dollars.
“Flipped out, flipped out,” he said. “The place has been closed for almost three years.”
According to Odilio, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department initially told him there had been a leak on the property and that even though the account had been closed, he was still on the hook for the usage.
“It’s your property, it’s your responsibility,” he said he was told. “I understand but again I didn’t request the service, I didn’t request the account, I didn’t use the water.”
Odilio said he fixed the leak on the property and showed proof of the repair. Still, he said he was told he didn’t qualify for any credits. He was able to eventually connect with someone at the water department who promised to review his case. While he waited, he said he received an alarming letter saying his property could have a lien put on it.
“So that’s when I called you guys,” he said.
The water department sent NBC 6 the following statement, explaining what happened:
“WASD has been working with Mr. Moreira to resolve this issue. During the investigation, staff took the opportunity to test the water meter since it fell within the timeframe of its scheduled testing. While in this particular case, the meter ran slightly higher than the proper operating standards, which resulted in the customer receiving the credit on his bill, it is important to note that property owners should be vigilant in ensuring that their properties remain protected if left vacant for long periods of time. In this case, Mr. Moreira’s water meter had been tampered with after WASD had secured it after the last tenant had closed their account. Property owners should make regular site visits to ensure the property is properly maintained and should make sure to verify that there is no water usage being registered on their meter.”
Odilio received a credit on his account for $4,360.31, putting an end to his worries.
If you are going on an extended vacation or you are keeping a property you own vacant, the water department recommends you contact them to close your account. Once an account is closed, they told NBC 6 someone is sent to the property to physically lock the meter. You may also want to consider closing the main valve to your property while you’re gone.