ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — Residents at TEH Realty properties in St. Louis County will soon have another problem to deal with, Missouri American Water will be shutting off their water as soon as March 12.
In a press release, Missouri American Water said TEH has been delinquent on its water bill since 2019. The release said the company tried multiple times to get in touch with TEH over the past six months, but it did not work.
Missouri American Water is notifying residents of Springwood, Bridgeport Crossing, Crown Manor and Northwinds that their water could be shut off as early as March 12.
Missouri American Water said TEH can avoid the shutoff by paying the bills. The release said the money owed varies by building but is "significant."
Brian Russell, external affairs manager for Missouri American Water, said TEH has more than 200 open accounts covering its various properties around the St. Louis area. Russell confirmed the company owes money on a number of its accounts, but the accounts at the four properties at risk of losing service are the accounts Russell called "the most egregious." Some of the overdue accounts are unpaid as far back as August and September of 2019.
Olajuwan Thompson, who has lived at Bridgeport Crossing for two years, said he has seen notices from Missouri American Water over the past few months warning that service could cut off.
"When we would go ask about it, they would basically tell you that it was some sort of misunderstanding and that it was paid and don't worry about it," Thompson said.
Bridgeport Crossing management also posted a notice in residents' buildings dated February 28, 2020, informing residents that a company called Lexington Realty now manages the property. 5 On Your Side called Lexington Realty to confirm the transfer of ownership and to ask whether the group also manages other TEH properties. The person who answered the phone said he could confirm the group was "looking at" Bridgeport Crossing but could not confirm that a deal was reached.
Russell said Missouri American Water also heard about a potential sale but never heard that it went through.
Thompson, who said one of his neighbors moved out recently, does not plan to re-sign a lease at Bridgeport Crossing. However, in the meantime, he is not sure what he will do if water service is cut off next week.
"I obviously need to take a bath, wash clothes, I have kids, other people have kids," Thompson said. "We want a livable complex. Without water, it's not very livable."
“We hope to avoid disconnecting water service to these properties, but it is not fair to our other customers across the state who continue to pay their bills to allow one property manager to run up a high bill with no payment,” Grant Evitts, vice president of operations for Missouri American Water, said in the press release. “We believe we must utilize the rules regarding payment and service disconnection put in place by the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) in this circumstance."
Missouri American said it is working with local nonprofits to help residents. Residents can also call 211 for general assistance.