Water billing reforms just a start

May 17, 2011

The article by Liz F. Kay regarding water bills ("City to Overhaul Water Billing," May 11) was helpful but only told part of the story. The well-known clerical errors, long waits to reach city water bureaucrats, frequent huge overcharges for water and so on, unfortunately, are well-known. One hopes Ms. Kay's report comes true and badly needed overhauling is done.

However, we are still faced with the fact that water bills are always in the names of landlords, not tenants. Hence, no matter what arrangements may exist, if the tenant skips out, is evicted or simply does not have the money, landlords must absorb the bills, sometimes for $500 or much more. A legal clause in the rental contract stating that the tenant is responsible for the bill is little help.

The whole thing suggests the city and state could care less about what landlords face. But they should because these losses translate into boarded up houses, lack of care for properties and a general demoralization of folks most responsible for providing the city with housing. None of this is even to mention the torture of legally evicting tenants who decide to "work the system" and enjoy the labor of others for months or longer. More investigation of the situation remains to be done.

H. L. Goldstein, Towson

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