(WSVN) - He is a landlord. One of his tenants didn’t pay their water bill for two years. Now, the City of Hialeah is saying if the landlord doesn’t pay his old renters bill, they will slap a lien on his property.

It’s why he turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When you see a landlord with a couple of properties, you might wonder how they were able to afford it.

Takes years, Miguel says.

Miguel Marrero: “And you have to stop yourself from going to vacation to save that money to become a landlord.”

And when you become a landlord you get something else. Headaches.

Miguel Marrero: “They should punish the person that is responsible for it, not me.”

After a tenant left Miguel’s rental property, his son went to the Hialeah Water Department to put the account in his name and was told, “Your father has a past due bill.”

Miguel Marrero: “That property had a debt of $2,136 under the name of a renter person that was there before.”

Miguel was told his renter didn’t pay her Hialeah water bill from 2018 to 2020, so Miguel had to pay it.

Miguel Marrero: It’s totally unfair for me as a landlord.”

So many other things aggravated Miguel. First, for three years, the city didn’t tell him about the water bill.

Miguel Marrero: “I was never notified. I was never contacted.”

That let interest and penalties grow. And Miguel also wonders why the water department let a renter go for two years without paying their bill.

Miguel Marrero: “They didn’t do their job, and now they punish me and they punish the person that is not responsible for it.”

Miguel says he doesn’t have to the $2,100 to pay the bill. To force him to pay, Hialeah turned the water off at the house and sent a not so nice letter.

Miguel Marrero: “Threatening me that they were going to put a lien on my property unless I paid that debt.”

Miguel came to America to work hard to save his money. Not to give it to Hialeah to pay someone else’s $2,100 water bill.

Miguel Marrero: “Right away thought about, you know, asking for help from Patrick and Howard.”

We’ll try Miguel.

So, Howard, does he have to pay a tenant’s old water bill?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “The law says the Hialeah Water Department is wrong. And it’s an old law. In 1985, the legislature said cities cannot demand that an owner pay for a water bill that was in a tenant’s name. Now there are exceptions, but they are very few and Hialeah does not qualify for an exception. Meaning, they have to turn the water back on and drop the threat of a lien.”

We asked Hialeah why they let the renter go years without paying the water bill and not notifying Miguel it was past due.

They didn’t answer those questions. But after we sent them the law that blocked them from billing Miguel, they did what we wanted.

They wiped out the water bill, the threat of a lien and changed a policy telling us, “The City of Hialeah will be placing additional measures in place to ensure that the registered property owner is notified immediately when water and sewer services are disconnected for non-payment.

Miguel Marrero: “I feel so happy.”

The water is on. The battle is over after Miguel’s call to Help Me Howard.

Miguel Marrero: “Thanks a million to the whole team, to the Channel Seven, to Help Me Howard.”

It was nice to find that law to help you out, Miguel. I cant believe the city was violating the 1985 state law, which means if you are a property owner in Hialeah and you paid for a tenants water bill, try to get the money back from the city.

Also, the renter still owe the $2,100 water bill if Hialeah wants to track her down.

A problem left you tapped out? Don’t want a watered down solution? Let us get into the flow and make a splash for you.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

Copyright 2024 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox