My water just got turned off and I’m a tenant. I cannot reach my landlord, I have small kids, how do I get my water back on? Can I deduct the amount I pay for water restoration from my rent to the landlord?
A. Rest assured, we are available to assist you. In the event of an absentee or vacationing landlord, we will make payment arrangements, usually short-term in nature with you, the tenant. You may be required to make a down payment and pay the turn on fee before service can be restored once we confirm that you are not the actual owner.
B. If you are unemployed, disabled, DSS client, you may qualify for a hardship agreement. Be sure to contact your direct- service agency counselor and find out what information you will need from us in order for them to assist you. Normally, social service agencies require that you provide them with an account printout. There is a $3.00 charge for the print out that you will have to pay. Once you take the print out to DSS, they will determine the amount of your future award and give you an award statement. You must bring the DSS statement along with the turn on fee to our Exchange Street office in order to have service restored. We take into consideration the amount of the DSS award in developing your payment plan. Once we agree on payment terms, you must return your payment arrangement to DSS in order to finalize your award with them so that they will actually make a payment to us on your behalf. You must complete all follow up requirements for payment from DSS.
Because we are not attorneys, it would be inappropriate of us to give legal advice, we can only suggest that you consult an attorney in such matters.
The office of the New York State Attorney General Office Andrew M. Cuomo has produced an excellent reference entitled, “Tenant’s Rights Guide” that you can access on line at http://www.oag.state.ny.us/realestate/habitability.html#30. The website addresses the landlord’s responsibility to provide vital services to tenants.
Yes, you may contact the Erie County Environmental Health Inspector at 716-961-6800. You will be required to provide them with your name, address and the name and address of the landlord. Because a NO WATER call is considered an emergency and is also considered to be unsanitary, Erie County will attempt to contact your landlord by telephone and by mail after confirming the account information with AWS-COB-Division of Water. Erie County will give your landlord five days to have the water service restored. If the landlord fails to have the service restored in the time frame allotted, Erie County Environmental Health will petition the landlord to City of Buffalo Housing court. NOTE: You may have to move to temporary quarters for a time. Erie County will not provide legal advice. If you chose to pay the water bill and offset your rent to the landlord, we recommend that you consult an attorney in this matter.
Yes, with the assistance of Neighborhood legal services, we have developed, and adopted the kind of agreement you mention. The City of Buffalo’s legal department and the Commissioner of Public Works, Streets and Sanitation have sanctioned the use of such an agreement.
I am a senior citizen and I am disabled, my water is turned off for non-payment but my landlord will not call me back. If I come in and make arrangements to pay the balance, will you give me a Senior Citizens & Disability discount?
Unfortunately, we cannot offer the Senior Citizens discount to tenants. Senior Citizen’s discounts are available only to homeowners at their primary residences. Income properties do not qualify for the discount . There is no disability discount at this time.
No such funds have been identified in the Buffalo, New York area at this time.
I was just at a Tops Market paying other utility bills and saw a sign that says Erie County Water customers can pay their bills via Western Union payment services right there inside of the market. Why can’t City of Buffalo water customers pay their bills at Tops?
Effective Wednesday, August 1, 2007 you may now pay your City of Buffalo Water bills at participating Western Union Agent locations in Tops markets and other retail stores. A complete listing of participating stores can be found on line at: http://www.buffalowaterauthority.com/Home/CustomerService/OnlineBillPayment
When paying at participating Western Union locations, please be sure to have your City of Buffalo Division of Water bill with you. Please note that Western Union payments have a processing time of 1-3 business days.
If your water service has been interrupted, you will need to present your receipt to the Exchange Street billing office and pay for a “turn on” fee before service is restored.
There could be several reasons why we cannot read your meter using the box located on the outside of your house. (1) There may be a break in the touch pad wire located on the outside of your house that is not allowing the black box to communicate with the meter located on the inside your house. (2) The actual meter located inside of your house may be defective. (3) The water department staff may not be able to get close enough to the box attached to your house if it is blocked by; trash, cars, dogs, bushes, locked gates, etc., in which case you should have received a door hanger advising you of this problem. In any of the aforementioned cases, your next bill will be estimated. You should contact the meter shop at 851-4741 to arrange for repairs.
The Basic and Enhanced STAR school property tax exemptions program effects the amount you pay on Property Taxes not water bills. The Exemptions are homestead exemptions. Basic STAR is available to anyone who owns and lives in his or her own home. Enhanced STAR is available to homeowners whose incomes do not exceed the statewide standard. Qualifying for the Basic or Enhanced STAR program does not affect your water bill. For additional information on Basic and Enhanced Star school property tax programs, go on line to http://www.orps.state.ny.us/star/index.cfm and http://www.orps.state.ny.us/star/star_forms.cfm.
Charges will continue until you have (1) paid your balance in full, (2) completed & returned the turn off application so that your account can be inactivated, (3) water is turned off at the curb by Division of Water staff (4) associated fees are paid, and (5) your meter is returned.
Note: If the water service valve or box is reported as defective, you will receive a violation letter advising you to engage a licensed plumber to repair or replace the service box or valve. This work must be completed before the service can be inactivated. By Water Board Regulations copied below, the property owner is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the service line and valve.
10085.7-Water Service Connections
According to Water Regulations; 10085.12 & 10085.13, all water charges for the property are the responsibility of the property owner and there can be no abatement for leakage. Delinquent City of Buffalo Water bills, according to water regulations, become liens on the property and left unpaid may result in the loss of the property at the City’s annual tax sale.
You don’t actually pay two sewer bills. On your tax bill there is a charge for sewer rent, which underwrites the maintenance and repair of the sewer system infrastructure. This amount is payable twice a year with your property tax bill. The sewer charges you pay on your combination water and sewer bill are for transporting waste from your toilet directly into the sewer system and are payable, in most cases, quarterly.
All current and delinquent water bills are to be paid either prior to the closing or at the actual real estate closing. You may wish to check with your attorney to determine if he/she requested a final bill be sent to the previous owner. In any event, your attorney will have to investigate the matter for you. According to Water Board Regulations; 10085.12 (b), the property owner is liable for all current and past due charges for the property.
We must notify you according to water regulations. The following notifications occur: (1) All residential customers are sent a quarterly billing that indicates the current amount billed and arrears amount owed along with other charges. The disclosure regarding past due amounts (arrears) is located on the reverse side of your bill, bullet point #3 which says “ Arrears CHARGES ARE PAYABLE IMMEDIATELY IN ORDER TO AVOID INTERRUPTION OF SERVICE” (2) You are sent a reminder notice (3) If you fail to pay the amounts billed, your property is physically tagged with a door hanger that is a bright florescent color which indicates the last day in which you have to make payment or payment arrangements that will cancel the scheduled interruption of service to your property. You may make mutually satisfactory payment arrangements over the phone with our Exchange Street billing office and pay by master or visa card or you may visit our Exchange Street location and pay your bill or a portion of it and make payment arrangements to ensure that your water service is not interrupted.
Arrangements to avoid shut off may only be made through the billing office at 281 Exchange Street.