Greensboro property owners face liens for old bills

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The City of Greensboro posted several pages of water liens on the city website, naming people who never paid for using water utilities.

The list addresses delinquent accounts for November 2012 through November 2013. The city is required to publish the list in the newspaper and also posted it online this year.

Jeff Kimel is the Customer Service and Billing Manager for City of Greensboro Water Resources Department.

He said the list totals about $100,000 owed, an improvement compared to past years.

"It’s a process that starts when an individual moves out of the account, and then they leave the past due bill,” Kimel said. “We send out a final bill and a final bill delinquent notice. Now, in some cases with the economy, housing hasn’t been able to sell ...  so it may sit vacant for a period of time."

But that unpaid utility bill is still owed. And in these cases the balance became a lien on the property.

Usually, Kimel explained, these bills are figured out during closing when a new owner takes over.

"But if they are not taken care of at closing, then it does become the responsibility of the current property owners to pay those," he said.

Two buildings and the clubhouse of Serenity Apartments at Greensboro are on the list, owing more than $9,000 total for water. Ownership changed hands at the apartments last year; the previous bill was left unpaid. Now the new company is left with a lien.

The new company was looking into the situation but could not provide a comment to FOX8 Friday.

Other properties such as the Howard Johnson on Veasley Street off High Point Road had a similar situation, owing $4,827.05. Ownership recently changed.

BVT Group LLC had several apartments on the list of liens totaling more than $3,000.

Kimel said they take several steps to notify current property owners of money owed before placing a lien on the property. It is ultimately the new owners' responsibility, he said.

"If the past due bill is not taken care of, then it can end up being a judgment on the property," he pointed out. That would mean the amount is put on the deed of the property and would have to be paid before the property can sell again.

It may not seem fair, but Kimel said it's up to new owners to check for old bills.

In addition, the city posted a list of Nuisance Abatements. In most cases, it addresses fines for lot cleanup at residential properties.

According to a city spokesperson, if a property owner is warned to clean up his or her property and neglects to do so, the city hires contractors to take care of the work. The costs are passed on to the property owner, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars. If the liens are not paid, the city can pursue foreclosure.


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