Detroit homeowners stuck with squatter's water bill

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Imagine footing the water bill for the people who squatted in the home before you moved in. It is the reality of a Detroit couple stuck now with that outrageous utility bill.

Frustrated with the situation, they turned to 7 Action News for help.

The couple bought the house not knowing the squatters were inside.

They had been evicted and thought their troubles were over. Then they learned the squatters had been stealing water for years and they got stuck with the bill.

Ken and Lorie’s ordeal with the Detroit Water and Sewage Department started last fall.

They purchased their home in a Wayne County auction.

While they were waiting for the squatters to be evicted, they spoke with the Water Department to check the service. That's when he says he was told there is no sign of water usage at the property.

Ken said there was water usage because the grass was watered every day, but the woman he spoke to, again, said there was no water usage.

Ken had retired from the water department and knew he was dealing with an Illegal hook-up, so he reached out to a former co-worker.

Ken explained that the co-worker brought the key and cut the water off. After that they thought everything was sorted out.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.

Days later someone had turned the water back on illegally. A backhoe was brought in to break the water line.

They thought that was the end of things until April when the shut-off noticed arrive with a $3,200 bill. Someone from the Water Department had finally come out to read the meter, even though the squatters were done.

Ken and Lori got hit with the bill for their previous water usage going back to 2009.

Ken thinks the bill should have gone to the squatters.

He had his name and his new address, but no one was home when reporters stopped by.

Last week 7 Action News Reporter Ronnie Dahl contacted the Detroit Water and Sewage Department regarding Lori and Ken's ordeal. Tuesday a letter from DWC came saying the mistake was on them.

Although the bill was resolved, 7 Action News and the Water Department will continue investigating.

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