I recently moved into a house in South Carolina. Upon trying to get my water turned on they informed me I was going to have to pay $1500 in "unpaid fees" in order to get it turned back on. I have a lease, I don't understand why I'm being held accountable for these fees. Can they really deny me water and force me to pay this?

  • So you are renting? Have you talked to your landlord? – mikeazo Sep 29 '16 at 18:58
  • @mikeazo yes, my uncle is the one who owns the house. he's letting me live here for extremely cheap, but he is unable to dish out 1500 dollars to pay the water company, whether it's his fault or the previous tenant. which, I'm assuming it was the previous tenants fault since they had water when they lived here. similarly, when I went to get internet, he also had about $200 unpaid on cable, but all I had to do was show my lease and I didn't have to pay it. why isn't the water company this way? – KruSuPhy Sep 29 '16 at 19:01
  • The water company is the local government (county or city). So that is a very different animal than the cable company. Often the water company can even put a lien on the property if payment has not been made. I'm assuming you explained that you are a new renter and not the old tenant, right? – mikeazo Sep 29 '16 at 19:20
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    It is the land lord's responsibility to ensure you have water. I couldn't find any specific South Carolina laws regarding this, but most likely the water company can deny service to the house for an unpaid bill. – mikeazo Sep 29 '16 at 19:36
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    Electricity, Water, Natural Gas, and Sewer service assessments are explicitly privileged in a way telecommunications services (telephone and cable/internet) are not: law.justia.com/codes/south-carolina/2013/title-5/chapter-31/… – user662852 Sep 29 '16 at 20:13

Water charges are the responsibility of the person who has the contract with the water utility.

However, if they are unpaid, they become a lien over the property irrespective of who owns it. In fact, they usually have the right to seize the property and sell it to recover their money. They can also, as you found out, refuse to provide water until they get paid.

Unfortunately, your uncle needs to pay them and try to recover the money by suing the former tenant - I hope he still has their security deposit!

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