Detroit senior gets $800 water bill despite home being boarded up

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Riddled with health issues, 72-year-old Betty King says a water bill has presented her a headache she doesn't need.

The bill is $888 for water usage in the period between June and July.

Why is it so unbelievable?

This home is boarded up, out of commission since April, she says. The senior purchased it as an investment in Detroit, something she could oversee as a rental property while in retirement.

Water typically costs her from $60 to $90 a month. This bill is nearly ten times that cost.

So who used the water? A court document shows the last tenant was removed from the property in early April by way of eviction. Soon after, she says she had it boarded up to stave off thieves.

7 Action News took a look inside and couldn't find any evidence of anybody living there. There also weren't any leaks or broken toilets running, which can often be the cause.

But that rationale was seemingly not enough for the water department who told her the charges would remain intact.

On a fixed income, the senior says she can't pay the money.

7 Action News got on the case. The water department says their records show the meter is working, but they did acknowledge the strange spike in June versus every month before.

The senior, they say, will have a hearing to dispute the charge, and in the meantime, the bill has been placed on hold.

But what should you do if the same thing happens to you?

  • Report the discrepancy to your water utility immediately
  • Check to make sure you don’t have any leaks or plumbing problems that could be costing you big bucks
  • Request a meter check to make sure it’s not faulty. You can even have the meter tested by your own expert in the presence of the utility company
  • And if you’re required to pay in the end, ask about setting up a payment plan, which can help lessen the burden of the high amount

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