The title of this question might need some work, because my question is really two-fold.
I live in a rented Townhouse in Maryland, USA. Water and Sewage costs are separated because the county provides well water for free, but not sewage.
A few days ago I received a bill from a sewage company "NWP". The bill is a single charge with no details. Just "Sewage Fee ".
The number seemed shockingly high for what I have paid for water plus sewage in the past, so I called the company and discovered that I am being billed for the usage of the entire "community" split based on the number of residents in the Townhouse (just my wife and I). The company also told me that it was impossible for them to even tell me how much my unit is using because there are no meters installed.
So my first question is whether or not this is even legal. I'm not sure if sewage is considered a utility like water and is subject to the legal protections, and I also don't know where I would find those protections (I just recently moved here from a different state). My gut tells me this shouldn't be allowed because it discourages conservation. I can't conserve usage because when the bill comes, I'll have no idea what I actually used. But this is just a gut feeling and I'd like to know section and paragraph if I'm going to do anything serious with this.
My second concern is that this isn't mentioned anywhere in my lease. The only time the lease ever mentions sewage at all is one time at the top with the line:
Tenant Pays For: TENANT PAYS FOR GAS AND ELECTRIC, AND SEWAGE
The "Utilities" section does not mention Sewage in any way and it is absent from the rest of the document.
I was told during the tour and today at the office that I only pay for my own usage. Unfortunately this was verbal and is not in the lease. After I escalated at the office to the manager, the manager admitted that this is a lie, but since it's not in writing, I think they know they're safe.
If I had known that I was on the hook for my neighbor's heavy water usage, I would not have signed, and the lease completely hid this information from me. Do I have any case for breach of lease terms or something like that? I feel like socializing sewage costs is important enough to have been noted in the lease, and it would have affected my decision.
- Is it legal to socialize sewage where I am not provided with my own usage? If not, how should I proceed?
- Is there anything I can do with the fact that this was not mentioned in the lease terms?