Landlords dispute water charges

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - What happens if a renter moves out without paying their water bill or has the water turned off and then illegally tampers with the meter to turn it back on?

Meridian landlord W.C. McMullan knows all too well.

“If a tenant moves out and leaves a water bill they want to make the property owner responsible,” said McMullan.

That's something McMullan and several other landlords that attended Tuesday’s city council work session says needs to change.

"In my case I had a vacant property with no one living there for several months and I received a call from the city water department stating that someone had went over there and turned the water on over a three month period,” said McMullan.

Mcmullan says he then had to pay the water bill and a thirty dollar meter fee for water he didn't use.

Chief Administrative Officer Richie McAlister said the city simply bills the person who is responsible for the property.

"The question that we're looking at right now is when it comes to individuals owning property and renting that property to a third party, how can we work together to address water meters once you have a tenant leave?" said McAlister.

The CAO says roughly 18,000 water meters are in Meridian but only around 14,000 are active. He also says it's not always easy to identify when a water meter isn't being used legally.

"It is a lot of information to process, we're going to be working to find a resolution for this challenge we all face together,” said McAlister.

McAlister said the city plans to meet again to discuss the issue.