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Who Is Responsible For a High Water Bill Due to a Leak: Landlord or Tenant [Florida]

The answer to this question is in the lease, whoever is responsible for paying the water bill is responsible for paying the increased water bill.

Our lease specifically states that the landlord is not responsible for higher than normal water bills if a leak occurs. The reason for including this clause is because a high water bill can be the result of many things including running toilets, leaky faucets, etc. Some of these leaks can be fixed fast and are inexpensive to repair if they are reported on time.

A leak that’s not reported and repaired can waste hundreds of gallons of water:

Running Toilet780 gallons per month
Leaking Faucet (one drip per second)259 gallons per month
Leaking Shower Head (ten drips per minute)43 gallons
In-ground Irrigation6,300 gallons per month
Garden Hose Left Running129,600 gallons per month
Source: City of Kirkland, Washington

Here is what should be done if the water bill is higher than usual:

  1. Check toilets, faucets, under the sinks for leaks.
  1. Look around the house for wet spots. Here in Florida most of the newer homes have pipes buried in the dirt under the concrete slab. If you see water on the floor and you can determine where it’s coming from, it may be from a broken pipe. This doesn’t happen often but it does happen. 
  1. Turn off the water from the main water shut-off valve and check if the meter is still running. If is it, there is a leak somewhere.
  1. If the meter is not running, there are two possibilities: one there is something wrong with the meter, or two if you have an automatic sprinkler system, the timer may be malfunctioning. Meters that are not smart meters can be misread or they may need to be repaired. Call the Water Company to check your meter. In Florida, many homes use sprinkler systems and this often is the cause for a high water bill.  If the timer for the sprinkler system is not set properly or simply doesn’t work, the water bill can be astronomical.
  1. If you tried all of the above suggestions and you still can’t find the leak, call a leak detection company. In our area, it costs around $250-$350 for someone to come and find the leak. Even if you call a plumber and they don’t see the leak they may call a leak detection company first. They use specialized equipment to pinpoint with accuracy where the leak is coming from.

After the leak is repaired, whoever is responsible for the water bill, should call the Water Department and fill out their Leak Adjustment Form (here is an example Hillsborough County.)

Normally to get an adjustment for your water bill the leak has to be repaired, the usage should be noticeably higher and after the repairs, the bill has gone back to normal.

About the author

Chris Christo owns a property maintenance company and writes for Rentce on all rental maintenance topics.
He is also a rehabber and a landlord.
When he doesn’t work on properties or writes about properties, he can be found fishing.