De Blasio: New BillWould StopWater Liens
At a Queens Chamber of Commerce forum held this week, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio announced new legislation that will prevent the City from intimidating homeowners and businesses into paying bills they do not owe. A record number of customers contested sky-high water bills in 2011 after the Department of Environmental Protection installed new automated meter readers.
However, the DEP warns customers contesting their bills that they face escalating fees and a lien sale if they do not “act now.” A lien sale can lead directly to foreclosure. Many customers abandon their appeals—however warranted— for fear of losing their home or business. De Blasio’s legislation would prohibit late fees and lien sales while customers are contesting a bill.
“No small business or homeowner should ever be intimidated into paying more than he or she owes. New Yorkers do not deserve that kind of extortion from their own City government,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “The last thing New York City needs is another foreclosure or small business closing its doors.”
“In this tough economy, small businesses are struggling to survive. The last thing they need is to get soaked by the City’s unreasonably high water bills, due to faulty water meters. Our small businesses are the backbone and lifeblood of our city’s economy.
It is the responsibility of the City to ensure that our small businesses are treated fairly and afforded the opportunity to succeed,” said co-sponsor Council Member Peter Koo.
The Public Advocate has over 25 cases of home and business owners receiving lien sale threats during the appeals process.
The legislation has 10 co-sponsors including Council Members Peter Vallone, Oliver Koppell, Daniel Halloran, Elizabeth Crowley, Daniel Dromm, Peter Koo, Letitia James, James Vacca, Ydanis Rodriguez and Debi Rose.