Water-Only Liens Not Subject to Tax Sale

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Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh today announced that she is suspending the disposition of water-only liens for residential accounts in the annual tax sale process. Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudolph S. Chow, P.E., pledged his support.

"I am very familiar with the issues of water liens and tax sales and I know the angst that these issues can cause our most vulnerable citizens,” said Mayor Pugh. “While very few homeowner properties have been foreclosed for water bill-only liens, I will be suspending this practice for the coming tax sale so that the City can work with at-risk homeowners with large delinquent balances to see how we can help get their accounts back in good standing.”

“All of us agree that people should not lose the homes they own and live in due solely to unpaid water bills,” said Mr. Chow. “We continue to assist qualifying customers to enroll in our assistance programs or to set up payment plans if necessary.”

Mayor Pugh’s decision applies to owner-occupied housing. It does not extend to commercial buildings or rental properties.

Also, customers are advised to continue paying their water bills to avoid falling behind. DPW encourages customers with questions or concerns to seek assistance before their delinquencies become overwhelming.

The Customer Support and Services Division offers walk-in help on the first floor of the Abel Wolman Building, 200 Holliday Street. Customers may also call 410-396-5398 or email DPW.Billing@baltimorecity.gov.

According to information provided by the Department of Finance, only a handful of properties that go to tax sale due solely to a water bill debt actually end up being lost to foreclosure. Mayor Pugh’s decision should provide peace of mind to people who own and occupy their own home.

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