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I live in a building that has 12 apts and the landlord bills us for the water. Is that legal?

Miami Beach, FL |

I've been living in this building for 5 years owned by the Residence of South Beach. Three years ago the previous management started charging for water. At first it was 20 dollars a month. Then it increased to 30 the following year. Now the new management had been billing each tenant between 70-100 every two months. That's over 900-1000 dollars for this building that mostly has studio apartments. That's impossible. Water simple dont cost that much and the management won't show me a bill or explain how he came up with that number. I spoke with other tenants in other buildings with the same management and its the same story. Most managements in Miami include water in the rent. I wanna know if this is legal? There is only one water meter in the building too.

Attorney Answers 1


The rental agreement will govern what the landlord may, or may not, pass through as expenses to the tenants. Ideally, the rental agreement would state that a tenant is allowed to view a copy of the bill at the rental office, or provided a copy, whenever there was an adjustment. Unless someone is taking a constant shower, or cannot get away from the toilet, on a continuing monthly basis, that's an awful lot to charge. Certainly does seem very suspicious. In the absence of a written lease, or the written lease stating a right to see the water bill, I think the general requirement of dealing in good faith implies that the landlord should produce the water bill.

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Edward J. Fucillo

Edward J. Fucillo


I agree with Mr. Russo and add that the obligation to deal in good faith is also a statutory requirement under 83.44, Florida Statutes. If your lease agreement permits you to be charged for water, it should state how the billing is apportioned between the units. They may be dividing it equally among the units, or by calculating the sq. footage of the units. The billing should be based on an objective calculation and not arbitrary. If they do not give you a satisfactory answer, I recommend you consult with a local attorney who can review the terms of your lease.

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