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But the Other Tenants Didn't Complain About the Sewage Water

During Renters Week, we're talking about bad tenants, bad landlords, and bad roommates. Roomies and tenants have been bashed, so now it's the landlord's turn. This next story is so bad, we had to run it in its entirety.

About 15 years ago, we moved into a 3 bed two bath home in Sag Harbor; nice neighborhood, cost us $2500/month. Landlady delivered it dirty and all rooms needed to be painted. After paying double rent for a few weeks we had cleaned, painted, and moved in.
Within a few weeks my wife and I both were suffering from frequent nausea and thought perhaps we had a lingering stomach bug. Then the cat got sick and the vet said it looked like some type of poisoning. About the same time we noticed our water was looking sort of foamy. Clear but bubbly. We called the landlady and asked if we could have the water tested. She refused to pay for a test so we hired a water testing company ourselves and the tech showed up, took a sample to bring back to the lab but told us right then, "Do NOT drink this water, it has detergent in it." The test results came back and were bad, bad, bad. The water contained high levels of detergent, E. coli, and a bunch of other bacteria I can't recall. They told us not to even bathe in it. Called landlady, she agreed to meet, read the lab paperwork and said "Too bad, no other tenants have gotten sick or complained." I offered her a glass of water and she refused to drink it. We called Suffolk County Department of Health and they asked us to send the lab results. If it was as we said they would condemn the property. This finally got the landlady's attention and she called a well drilling company. They explained the house had a shallow well pump and the 3-4 foot thick clay layer (water barrier) was about 30 feet down. Our domestic water was being pulled from above the clay layer where all of the neighborhood cesspools also reside. We were drinking diluted sewage. Nice! A new (nice and expensive) deep well was drilled and all was better. The following year SCWA installed municipal water on the street and the new well was disconnected. I guess karma bit the landlady in this case (she had to pay again to have the house connected to the water main).

· All Renters Week 2013 posts [Curbed Hamptons]