My Water Was Shut Off Due To Late Payments - What's Next?
You may be surprised to learn that nearly 12 percent of Americans have a hard time making on-time payments of their water bills, according to 2017 research.
Researchers also hypothesized that the number of people with past due water bills could triple by 2022. As paying utility bills is the only way to retain utilities, such as water, this could be bad news if you’re one of those who missed the due date of your bill.
But to do if your water gets shut off? We’re here to help and answer some of the most common questions that come up when someone is faced with this problem. Let’s get started.
Can My Utility Company Shut Off Water?
While clean water is necessary for survival and good health, American utility companies have grounds to shut off water service for non-payment, just as other utilities like electricity and gas do if a customer does not pay their bills.
Laws regulating service termination vary from state to state and may even be different between various utility companies within a single region. Understanding how your specific state and company are regulated with help you avoid having your water turned off.
How Late Can I Be With the Water Bill?
As with other utilities, your water company normally won’t turn off your water the day after you miss a bill payment due date. Rather, you can likely miss two to three months of payment without losing service. That’s because many utility companies offer a two- to three-month grace period or even longer.
If you miss a water payment, you will likely receive a notice in the mail of the date by which you must have your bill paid or have your water turned off. Pay attention to this notice and take action immediately.
What Will the Utility Company Do to Get Their Money?
Non-payment of your water bill is a big deal. You may get stuck with a late payment fee or sent to a collection agency, which can go on your credit report and hurt your credit score. So contacting your water company before it comes to this can help avoid it altogether.
Once you’ve missed your payments, some water companies go after your late fees aggressively. However, unless you give them permission, they can not automatically withdraw funds from your bank account to pay off missed payments.
Next Steps After Water is Shut Off
As soon as the water company turns off your water, contact your utility company. Ask if they offer income-based repayment and work with them to set this up. If you qualify for such a program, you’ll be able to pay back your past due water bills and get your water turned back on immediately, ensuring you and your family have access to clean water.
How to Turn Water Back On After a Shut Off
While you may want to sneak out in the dark of night and twist a couple knobs to get your water service back on, doing so is illegal. The only way therefore to get water turned back on at your residence is to pay off your outstanding water bill.
Contact your utility company if you’re struggling to access the funds to do so.
What if I Need Help Paying Future Water Bills?
Most utility companies offer assistance in paying for water bills. Payment options are available if you get behind on utility payments, and depending on your income, you may even be eligible to get help on each month’s water bills.
The only way to learn if you’re eligible is to ask though, so don’t wait to get behind on your water bill. Contact your utility company to find out what options are available.
Income-Based Payment Plan
Need a payment plan that meets your needs? There are income-based payment options available with most water companies, which allow you to pay back what you owe over a predetermined amount of time.
Additionally, you may be eligible for an income-based payment option that helps lower your bill on a monthly basis, the same way as other utilities, like if you can’t pay your electric bill.
Emergency Short-Term Financial Solutions
Sometimes, you don’t have time to get a repayment plan figured out. Or maybe you struggle to keep your water on even with an income-based utility bill. In this event, a payday loan may help.
With a payday loan from Check Into Cash, you get a small loan to help you pay off whatever bills are hanging over your head, then you make a single loan payment on your next payday.
This payment includes an agreed upon fee that is typically much less than the cost of bouncing a check or restarting utilities that have been turned off.
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