NYC Mulling Plan to Seize Homes if Water Bills Not Paid

Feb. 5, 2004

New York City is considering a new plan to crack down on homeowners who don't pay their water bills - by taking their houses.

Under a City Council bill introduced yesterday at Mayor Bloomberg's request, the Finance Department would be permitted to seize one-, two- and three-family homes if the water bill is three years overdue and exceeds $15,000.

The average water bill for a single-family home is about $500 a year.

The new law also would allow the city to take possession of co-ops and condos that are three years behind on water payments, and rental buildings with more than three units that are a year behind, regardless of the sum involved.

Under current law, the city can seize only commercial properties that don't pay their water bills. But no case has ever gone that far.

The Department of Environmental Protection, which sends and collects an estimated 800,000 water bills each year, said the tough new measures would help keep water rates low for everyone.

Source: AP