Analyst reviews legal options in sewer billing debate - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Analyst reviews legal options in sewer billing debate

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A sewer service says some homeowners went years without being billed. A sewer service says some homeowners went years without being billed.

Homeowners in a Madison County subdivision feel caught up in a smelly situation.

They received bills from a sewer company for hundreds of dollars they never knew they owed. The company claims they recently discovered some homes had been hooked up to their lines for years without being billed. They claim the developer, Hunter Homes, never notified them about homes on the lot.

The homeowners feel caught in the middle of what they believe is an oversight on the part of both parties. It is a situation that could happen to anyone – what are we on the hook for, legally speaking, when we receive a service we had no idea we were getting in the first place?

Legal analyst Mark McDaniel said the first issue is a matter of contract. The homeowners may have one with the homeowners' association that could force them to intervene in this case.

If there isn't anything on paper, the homeowners may be stuck, especially if the company comes back and uses the argument of a "quasi-contract." That means that nothing needed to be written, only the exchange of services. In other words, one person can't be unjustly enriched at the expense of another.

Then there is the issue of the statute of limitations, where time will run out for the company to go back and collect.

In other words, "both sides are going to have an argument here," said McDaniel.

The homeowners have the option to rally together and take the issue to small claims court, but McDaniel warns it may cost more going that route than simply paying the bill.

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