Learn about water bill assistance programs in South Carolina. Also get information on your rights and laws that protect consumers from the shut off or disconnection. There are in fact some regulations when it comes to turning off water service. Find where to go and who to contact for assistance or additional information. There are places for individuals to turn to when you have questions or if you are faced with a questionable or illegal water service disconnections.
South Carolina regulations state that families and individuals have the right to pay their water bill without incurring any additional fees or late-payment charges. Customers can’t be charged any additional fees provided they pay the bill within 25 days of the date that is shown on your water bill for the current monthly charges.
If you do fall behind for whatever reason, you are provided the right to have at minimum 10 days notice before your water service can be disconnected. This will provide you time to find assistance or make alternate plans for non-payment of your water bill.
If you are faced with a disconnection or are struggling to pay your water bill, you will be provided the right to arrange what is known as a Deferred Payment Plan (DPP). This needs to be provided to customers prior to a scheduled disconnection of their service if they can show that they can’t pay their bill on time. The terms of the payment plan are as follows.
Water utility companies need to work with you and provide the household with the most the most economical rate schedule. There are different plans available and customers have the right to get the most affordable plan for their needs. Other needed actions that must be taking with struggling customers include the South Carolina water provider needs to provide you with a statement of your consumption for the past 12 months and they also need to provide you with an explanation of the utility companies billing procedures.
According to the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, families have the right to receive and connect water service if you do not owe money on past due water accounts or debts. The applicant will also need to provide access to your home or apartment and no fees are due if the use of the water does not pose a hazardous or dangerous condition to your neighbors or yourself.
If the South Carolina water company asks you to prove your credit worthiness, then you have the following options available to you and these are some of the approaches a person can take. You just need to show that you have been a customer of the same water company and that you have not had two consecutive 30-day arrearages on your bills in the past 24 months. You can also decide to have a satisfactory guarantor or co-signer on your account to guarantee your bills. Other options available to you can include making a cash deposit up front or providing a letter of good credit from a reliable source and presenting that letter to the water company.
If you decide to purse the cash deposit option, the maximum amount that you will need to pay cannot exceed an amount equal to 2 months of billing for a new customer. The money you pay up front is also a deposit, meaning that if you make a cash deposit with the water company, South Carolina laws and regulations state that you have the right to have your money refunded to you at any time that you discontinue service, less any unpaid balance on your account.
There are also other protections in place. Laws across South Carolina state that you also get interest on your deposit. This means that the money you pay will still grow over time, as customers will have the right to a refund of your security deposit (plus any interest). Once again, if your service was terminated for non-payment or if you have a balance on your account then you may not be entitled to a refund of your deposit as those funds will go to pay off any arrears on the account.
To learn more on any of these water bill payment plans, to get more information on the rights provided to you or details on these assistance programs, dial the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff at (803) 737-0800.
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