DeKalb County

DeKalb couple left with $56K lien on their home over what they say is error in water billing

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — A DeKalb County couple who is facing a water bill the price of a Mercedes amid ongoing problems with the county’s water billing system now may be unable to sell their home.

Channel 2 Consumer Investigator Justin Gray was in Stone Mountain, where Jazmeen Brewer and Tariq Mackey are supposed to close next week, but can’t because of a $56,000 lien on their home due to a massive unpaid water bill.

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The couple has been fighting the bill -- which is a total of 108 pages, for years, but just discovered the lien when the closing attorney informed their real estate agent about it.

Brewer said they are being billed for thousands of gallons of water that the couple is not using, dating back to 2013.

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“The statement says we’re using 40,000 gallons of water,” Brewer said. “Where’s the water? Our house would be floating away if that’s the case. We’ve had plumbers come out. We’ve had our water line replaced and rerouted through our home and can’t come down to the bottom of the problem.”

For years, DeKalb County has had problems with water meters and billing. The county has replaced more than 82,000 defective water meters. In this case, the county said they repeatedly came out to the home at the request of the customer, twice inspecting the water meter and replacing the meter two other times in 2014 and 2018.

“We’ve been going out to this customer’s property replacing water meters checking water meters, looking for leaks on our side, and everything we’ve found, there’s been no issues,” DeKalb County spokesman Andrew Cauthen said.

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Last month, Channel 2 Action News obtained a spreadsheet of 3,800 DeKalb residents who have failed to pay their bills so long the county will send out warning letters this month of a potential water cutoff.

Brewer said they were on a payment plan but could not keep up with the $150-per-week payments.

“If we hire professionals to come check it out and they cant find it, I don’t know what else it is we can do,” Brewer said.

Real estate agent Kiana Collier said the debt has to be paid.

“There’s no ifs, ands or buts, the debt has to be paid and it has to be paid at closing,” Collier said.

County officials said they continue to work with the homeowners. In fact, they were just out last month to shut off the water temporarily after a leak was found in the yard on the property.

Officials said the family can file an official dispute with DeKalb County water billing.