Owners, Tenants Forced to Pay Thousands After Mistake Leads to Huge Water Bills in Opa-Locka

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A mistake by Miami-Dade County utility officials has lead to sky-high water bills this month for many property owners in the city of Opa-locka.

Property owner Raul Fernandez says the mistake has led to his bills being ten times more than what they originally were.

“This particular building was paying x amount, let’s say $400-$500 per month for years," Fernandez says. "Now they want $5000 per month.”

The county took over billing for the city over the last two years. Dade officials say through that process, they discovered why Opa-Locka's bills were so low.

“The city had difficulty either issuing bills on a scheduled basis, or with the accuracy of the bills, and had to rely on estimates,” Miami-Dade Deputy Director, Doug Yoder, explains.

Those estimates, Yoder says, weren't accurate.

So, when owners like Fernandez didn't pay their bills entirely this month, the county had no choice but to shut the water off.

Tenants say their families and children went dry.

Water was eventually restored after three days, but Miami-Dade warns if customers do not pay the full bill, water will be shut off again.

“They’re required to pay, and we’re obligated as the city’s agent in this to go through our regular procedure,” Yoder says.

The procedure Yoder is speaking of is to give three notices over three months before shutting off water.

Attorneys for the property owners are asking the county to put a hold on the bills until a full investigation can be conducted.

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