City Bills Landowner $944 For Non-Existent Water Service For Vacant Lot

This luxurious 0 BR 0 BA home in the up-and-coming Sharswood area of Philadelphia apparently has been running up some expensive water bills.

This luxurious 0 BR 0 BA home in the up-and-coming Sharswood area of Philadelphia apparently has been running up some expensive water bills.

There are vacant lots all over the place here in Philadelphia, and a number of them are sold at auction by the city’s Housing Authority. When one area man purchased one such empty spot of land two years ago, the last thing he probably expected was to someday be hit with an unexplained and massive water bill for a property with nothing built on it.

The Philadelphia Daily News reports on the buyer of two auctioned properties — one vacant, one completely sealed-up — on the same street in the Sharswood section of the city.

The man purchased the buildings in 2012 as investments, but nothing has changed in the two years since taking ownership… that is, until he started receiving water bills for both.

In July, the city billed him for $760.60 on the vacant lot. The sealed property was even worse, somehow running up a $758 bill in spite of having no service.

When the bill didn’t get paid — because they were obvious mistakes, right? — the first one jumped to $944 in August, with the second increasing to $941.

He brought the presumably erroneous bills to the attention of the Water Revenue Board (why is that every municipal body sounds like something out of a Philip K. Dick story?) who promised to send out an investigator… within 30 days.

As we’ve seen many times before, bureaucracies don’t generally respond well to insane water bill disputes, so the property owner took his story to the Daily News in the hope of getting a resolution sooner.

A rep for the Bureau tried to explain the problem by saying that it didn’t find out that these properties had a new owner until April. Aside from the astonishing fact that it took one city agency two years to pass on a piece of basic information to another agency, this still doesn’t explain why the owner was being billed hundred of dollars on properties that have no water service or meter.

All the rep for the Bureau would say is that the “bill has been adjusted and the new owner will receive a new bill in the mail.”

As both a Philadelphia resident and someone who covers consumer news, I have a hunch this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this story.

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  1. furiousd says:

    Too bad the water service is provided by the city or he could have had some fun, telling them he wasn’t paying and they could turn off his water if they wanted. That would have made a fun video when the guy came out to find which connection to turn off.