Harvey Hunt was working with a cleaning crew preparing his Templeton rental for a new tenant on a recent afternoon when suddenly the units water turned off.
I was down there working with paint on me, he said. I had no idea.
The problem: Hunt says the Templeton Community Services District never contacted him the property owner about the impending shut-off.
We were not aware of the shut-off notice posted to the tenant until it was found later in the tenants trash, Hunt wrote in a letter to the districts board of directors.
Hunt said he did, however, receive a district notice by mail saying his tenants bill was overdue, but he said such a notice is common for landlords.
Hunts experience served as a reminder to the district last week that it must use all methods by phone, personal contact, mail and posted notice to notify its customers whose bills are overdue before shutting off the tap.
The reminder played out at a special meeting Sept. 18 where Hunt appealed to the districts board of directors after district employees shut off the water meter at the rental properties.
I think all people ought to be aware your water can be shut off without notice it happened to me, Hunt told The Tribune.
Hunts case also prompted the board to consider changing the districts rules at a future meeting to say that a property owner needs to be contacted about a shut-off notice when the customer cant be reached.
Board Vice President Judith Dietch said that discussion could come by the end of the year, adding that there are always benefits in making the rules more clear.
According to Hunt, the district gave notice to the tenant via a posted door hanger earlier this month about the water being turned off. It came several days after Hunt put the tenants water account in his own name, because the tenant was moving out. The door hanger was just left on the rental property, where Hunt doesnt live.
Had the district followed its own rules, Hunt would have been made aware of the impending shut-off by three other ways that are required to notify customers.
When the water was turned off at the rental, Hunt said he walked over to the district offices to see what the issue was. He offered to pay a partial bill to get the water back on for his work crew, but Hunt said district employees, including General Manager Jeff Hodge, argued with him, saying Hunt would need to pay the bill in full. Hodge could not be reached for comment.
Last week, the board held a meeting on the issue, at Hunts request, and agreed the districts procedures werent followed. The board agreed to turn the water back on and to give Hunts prior tenant 60 days to pay the bill. Hunt agreed that hed be responsible for the bill after those 60 days.
Board member Greg OSullivan said he believes the dispute shouldnt have risen to the boards level because district employees have enough leeway to resolve customer service issues.