Landlord, DuBois Council Debate Issue Over Water Bill

DUBOIS – On Monday night, landlord Kevin Salandra appeared before the DuBois City Council regarding a $140.89 water bill from a former tenant.

Salandra had evicted a tenant from his South Brady Street property for not paying their rent.  While trying to get the water meter turned over to his name, Salandra learned of the outstanding water bill.

Salandra said since May 18, he’s been trying to resolve the water bill, noting that under his reading of the Third Class City Code he isn’t liable since he wasn’t notified within 30 days of the bill being overdue.  Thirty days, Salandra said, would have been May 15.

“If you don’t want to pay it, I think your tenant owes it. But your water is going to be turned off,” said City Solicitor Toni Cherry. Cherry said she didn’t agree with Salandra’s reading of the Third Class City Code.

Cherry also explained that the code did not contain language, stating the city had to keep the water on or that it couldn’t turn it off.  She said the city would be allowed to turn off the water until it received the $140.89 and an additional $50 reconnection fee if the water is turned off.

“There’s nothing herein that forces us to terminate service, but there is nothing that prevents us from doing so.  That’s what we are going to do,” said Cherry.

According to Cherry, by the city turning the water off and keeping it off until payment, it did not make Salandra liable.  She said that neither he nor future tenants would have water until payment of the outstanding bill.

Cherry asked if Salandra had received a security deposit. “He owes me in excess of $1,800, and I used the security deposit against it,” said Salandra.

Salandra said that he has yet to get the address of the former tenant. “We can’t allow landlords to continue to have the problem we keep having,” said Cherry.

The city ordinances, according to Cherry, always held the property owners ultimately responsible for water bills.  However, she said recent ordinance changes will start having the water bills go to the landlords directly instead of to tenants.

The council and Salandra ended the public comment period at an impasse. Cherry said that Salandra could take the City of DuBois to court over $140.89. Salandra implied that he might, as he had been talking to city employees for two months over the issue.

 

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