If my landlady charges a water fee but recently turned off all outdoor accessible water, is this legal?

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If my landlady charges a water fee but recently turned off all outdoor accessible water, is this legal?

My landlady started including a “water fee” into my monthly rent a few years ago. Recently she turned off/locked all of the outside spouts due to “high water usage” by me and the rest of the tenants. Can she do this, especially considering that I’ve been paying a water fee? Aren’t I entitled to access that water since it was available when I started paying it?

Asked on July 4, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I would read the lease.  If the lease says you get access to water--then it should include any access you had at the beginning of the lease term.  She can't agree to charge a set fee by contract, then reduce the amount of water because she made a bad bargain.  Cut the locks off and tell her she made a deal so she has to honor it.

The contract is controlling here.  There is no state law regarding the provision of water for tenants.  The CA public utilities commission has said they do not regulate it either.


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