Atlanta

$118K water bill has name of woman who died in 2007 on it; water company wants new owner to pay it

ATLANTA — An Atlanta homeowner says he received a six-figure water bill, but the person whose name is on the bill died more than 15 years ago. That’s not stopping Atlanta Watershed from trying to collect the $118,000 from an Atlanta man.

Steve Chaudoin purchased a home on Venetian Way in a rapidly gentrifying section of southwest Atlanta as an investment property. There’s not even water coming out of the spigots in the home, but it still incurs a huge monthly water bill.

“It’s accruing at about $1,500 a month,” Chaudoin told Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray.

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He says he only found out about the giant water bill when he tried to switch the billing over.

“Actually, it all got started when I went to Watershed to get the bill put in my name as a responsible person should,” he said.

That’s when Chaudoin was told he owes $118,000 for a delinquent water bill dating back more than a decade.

A woman named Hattie Jennings’ name is attached to the bill. According to her death certificate, she passed away in 2007.

“The City of Atlanta has never changed the name on the bill since 2007. I have never seen a water bill in this mailbox since me becoming owner,” Chaudoin said.

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State law and Atlanta Watershed policy typically say a water bill is tied to a person, not a property. Georgia law says utilities cannot file liens on properties unless the owner of the property is the person who incurred the charges.

That’s why Chaudoin has filed a quiet title lawsuit against the city to try and remove Atlanta Watershed’s lien on the home.

“I’ve had three buyers for this house and the city has stood in the way on three different sales,” he said.

Channel 2 Action News reached out to Atlanta Watershed who say they cannot comment in any way on this case because of the active litigation.

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