There is a major change to tax searches concerning NYC Water and Sewer Charges. Going forward, the search will disclose only the current account balance and will not indicate the period covered, or the prior water usage and billing history. This is because New York City’s Department of Finance (“DOF”) and Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) have implemented restrictions limiting public access to a private property owners’ water usage and billing data through the Online Public Access Portal.
Undoubtedly, this will cause problems for attorneys guiding their clients through a New York City real estate transaction.
While customers have become accustomed to having detailed DEP information for their own purposes, this is not a title insurance issue. CB Title will continue to collect and pay all water and sewer charges entered up to the date of closing. However, the title policy does not cover water or sewer charges for usage prior to the Date of Policy. The title policy covers only those charges entered and, therefore, a lien prior to Date of Policy. Water and sewer charges entered after the Closing become liens after the Date of Policy. They are not covered regardless of the time period in which those charges accrued.
CB Title will not escrow for water and sewer charges which have not been entered. Also, we will not provide affirmative coverages for water and sewer “usage” not entered prior to Date of Policy, i.e. Date of Closing.
Purchasers can protect themselves by requiring that the Seller provide a Title Read Letter from DEP. Please click here to review the Memo from the NYSLTA that provides detailed information regarding the Title Read Letter.
The Owner and authorized representative continue to have access to all usage and billing data through the MyDEP portal. The timely request for, and receipt of, a Title Read Letter is crucial to establishing INNOCENT PURCHASER STATUS for water and sewer charges entered after closing covering a period prior to closing. If you fail to request, or timely receive, the Title Read Letter, you may incur personal liability for any loss or damage. To assist you in obtaining a Title Read Letter, you can, prior to the date of closing, (a) send an email request to TitleReadRequests@dep.nyc.gov, (b) visit the DEP borough office, (c) call the Borough Call Center at 718-585-7000, or (c) mail a request to DEP/BCS Customer Service, P.O. Box 739055, Elmhurst, NY 11373-9055.