Getting Hosed: Chicago landlord receives water bill for $10,000, with no warning about excessive use and no answers

CHICAGO (CBS) — How does a City of Chicago water bill for $70 flip right into a $10,000 tab from one bill to the subsequent?

This shouldn’t be the primary time the CBS 2 Investigators have uncovered an inexplicable water bill like this as a part of our “Getting Hosed” sequence.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey dug into the issue that one Chicago landlord has been attempting to repair for a full year.

“It was nothing out of the ordinary – $50, usually, per bill – until I got the big one,” stated Jonathan Seezox.

The “big one” was a $9,912.54 bill that Seezox was mailed in May of final year for his single-family residence that he rents out to a mother and her younger daughter.

“I actually thought it was a phishing scam, so I contacted the Water Department,” he stated.

A scam it was not. The bill was truly from town – claiming his tenant and her daughter used practically 1 million gallons of water that billing cycle.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Seezox stated.

He says he referred to as over and over, and he could not get a straight answer about whether or not a metropolis crew ever checked the meter. But his utilization was again to regular by the subsequent bill.

After months of no answers, Seezox had a state senator attain out on his behalf. The Citizens Utility Board additionally helped him file an off-the-cuff grievance.

But a full year later, he continues to rack up a $250 late charge on each single bill.

We additionally discovered a damaged water pipe cap mendacity out on the bottom in entrance of Seezox’s home – and not masking any pipe. Like the quantity owed on his water bill, the cap shouldn’t be the place it must be.

“When a bill goes from $50 to $10,000, why is there not a system set up to alert the user before it gets to that amount?” Seezox stated.

Seezox makes an excellent level. We could not discover any data about a excessive utilization alert on-line, and we reached out to the Department of Water Management to see if any program like that exists.

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, however, presents excessive utilization sort of alerts  to their prospects.

A spokesperson stated the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority has had nice suggestions from prospects who’ve gotten an alert about higher-than-normal utilization lengthy earlier than an enormous bill.

Seezox says he’d love that choice.

“Because I’m getting hosed. I know I’m not alone,” Seezox, stated, “and I think the more people who reach out to you, the more the water company will pay attention that there’s something wrong.”

The Chicago Department of Water Management stated prospects are notified of excessive use:

“Customers in houses and two-flats are automatically notified if their water meter is running continuously. This can be an indication that there is a break in the line on the property or a running toilet. If the property is not metered, there is no way to determine whether there is water loss occurring.”

But Seezox says he by no means acquired a notification of any variety.

The Department of Finance confirmed to the CBS 2 Investigators that they are going to be reaching out to this house owner to help him relating to his water billing situation.

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