For the buyers and sellers of real estate in New York City, the responsibility for acquiring the information concerning a property’s water bill, normally that of the buyers title insurance provider, will now be arranged and paid for by the property owner!
These are the details provided by the New York State Land Title Association…
Important change at New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP)
NYC DEP has shut down access to their computer system to everyone including municipal vendors.
Water information that you were used to receiving as part of a NYC tax search is no longer available. Information is now limited to only account number(s) and the current balance for each account number(s).
After speaking with DEP we understand that the access to this information will not return. They are trying to protect their 850,000 customers by requesting that a Title Read Letter be ordered from them as part of any NYC purchase transaction. The important part of ordering the Title Read Letter is that it provides innocent purchaser protection, so long as the title read letter is requested and received prior to the date of the property transfer.
DEP is authorized to cancel water and wastewater charges in limited situations for the benefit of an “Innocent Purchaser.” To qualify for “Innocent Purchaser” status:
Below is an excerpt from the most recent Water Board Rate Schedule effective January 6, 2020
A. Customers meeting the conditions of this Section may request and receive a Title Read Letter.
1. Prior to the date of the property transfer, a title read must have been requested by any of: (a) email sent to TitleReadRequests@dep.nyc.gov; (b) in person at a borough office of BCS; (c) by telephone to the BCS call center, 718-595-7000; or (d) by mail to DEP/BCS Customer Service, P.O. Box 739055, Elmhurst, NY 11373-9055;
2. The property transfer must be an arm’s length transaction as indicated on the real property transfer tax form;
3. DEP will assess a $25 Title Read Fee to the property;
4. DEP will review all accounts associated with the property, adjust the bills if applicable, and issue a Title Read Letter within 30 days after the receipt of a Title Read request, or, if applicable, within 10 days after the field inspection is completed;
5. The amount shown on a Title Read Letter shall remain on the account until paid;
6. Provided that the property transfer is an arm’s length transaction, DEP will not later adjust charges on an account upward for any applicable period prior to the issuance of a Title Read Letter;
7. The provisions of this section shall not apply where the culpable conduct of the Customer prevents or impedes DEP from securing a meter reading or inspection of the property.
8. A Title Read Letter that is properly requested and issued pursuant to this Section shall remain in effect for 60 days following the date of its issuance.
B. Customers who request a Title Read Letter after the date of the property transfer will receive an Off-Cycle Reconciliation Letter.
1. DEP will assess a $25 Off-Cycle Read Fee to the property;
2. DEP will review all accounts associated with the property, adjust the bills if applicable, and issue an Off-Cycle Reconciliation Letter within 30 days after the receipt of an Off-Cycle bill request or, if applicable, 10 days after the field inspection is completed;
3. The amount shown on an Off-Cycle Reconciliation Letter shall remain on the account until paid;
4. DEP may later adjust charges on an account, upward or downward, for any applicable period prior to the issuance of an Off-Cycle Reconciliation Letter, in accordance with the terms and provisions of the Rate Schedule and the policies and procedures of DEP;
5. The provisions of this section shall not apply where the culpable conduct of the Customer prevents or impedes DEP from securing a meter reading or inspection of the property.