CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Residents at the new Arabelle Clearwater apartment complex are fed up. Dozens complain of water bills they say tripled, and they want answers.
Debbie Schuman’s bill went up from the $60 range, she says, to $379 for one month. The bill includes water, sewer and trash service. Residents say the trash has stayed the same amount, but water and sewer jumped.
They also complain of fees they say they don’t understand.
“It’s difficult, being by myself, it’s difficult to make the payments,” Schuman said. “We’re kind of in a situation now where they’re saying we’re not going to take partial payments. Well, we almost feel like we have to pay or we’re going to get evicted.”
Dozens of Arabelle residents called Better Call Behnken to help them get answers.
Arabelle is by managed by a Florida company called Bainbridge. But the utility bills that include water, sewer and trash service are handled by a third-party billing company – Utah-based Conservice.
Residents say bills started jumping in December. They say there’s no clear accounting of how the bills are calculated and the charges are included in the monthly rent.
Melissa Baker says she moved in, in September and water bills shot up from $61.57 to $292, then $182.
“I’m a single person in an 850-square-foot apartment,” Baker said. “I’ve never in my life had water [and] sewer bills that high.”
A spokeswoman for Arabelle Clearwater sent this statement:
“Upon hearing from several residents with questions about their water bills, we engaged a third-party company that specializes in auditing billing companies to ensure our residents are being billed accurately. This process is not yet complete. As we communicated with our residents, we have been diligently working on a resolution and will keep them informed of the findings and next steps.”
Meanwhile, Shayne Koher, legal counsel for Conservice, says he recently learned of this issue and that it appears the charges are consistent with what the complex was charged by the city of Clearwater. He acknowledged, however, that the charges seem high and said the company will investigate.