An estimated 100 Robbins residents are without water after the village cut off power to six apartment buildings that officials say owe more than $137,000 in unpaid water bills.
The closure affects 42 apartments in the 13900 block of Central Park Avenue and comes, according to the village, after efforts to develop a payment plan focused on reducing water bill balances.
Erica Chiang, spokeswoman for the owners, said the water was turned off Thursday afternoon.
Marvin Wells, she said, collects rents from buildings, but believes each building is owned by a different owner.
The village identifies Wells as the owner, and a similar situation occurred when water was turned off to buildings nearly three years ago due to overdue water bills.
Wells could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
Chiang said residents of affected properties were using bottled water and at least one resident was moving into a hotel.
The village said it tried to work with the owner to avoid a water cut.
“It is very disturbing and unfortunate that this particular landlord has created very serious challenges for his tenants by ignoring his responsibility to pay for water in a timely manner,” the village said in a statement.
Robbins officials, including the village administrator and clerk, have held several meetings with Wells, including four sessions last month, to work out a payment plan.
The village said “red tag” notifications of impending water cuts were posted on buildings twice in the past month, and Wells was told the cuts would be delayed on the condition that he make a payment of almost $6,600 to make a dent in what was owed.
The village said a $5,000 payment was made on Tuesday, but it only applied to an unpaid bill for a building at 13906 Central Park.
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Village records show that aside from payment on building 13906 in Central Park, no water bill payments have been made by Wells on the other five buildings since 2019.
Chiang said the landlord, contrary to the village’s position, tried to work out payment agreements.
Chiang said there is a water meter for each apartment building, rather than individual units metered separately, and the village charges a fixed monthly rate. In doing so, it ignores vacant units, she said.
She said the village “has been talking about updating the water meter system for a few years” and that some residents believe that with the flat rate they are being overcharged for water.
“The water consumption does not reflect what they are charged,” Chiang said.
The water was cut off in the buildings in November 2019 following a billing dispute.