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NYC Lien Sale & Payment Agreements: Frequently Asked Questions

Lien Sale Outreach Calendar


What is a lien sale?

All overdue water and sewer charges are considered a lien against your property. Under new legislation passed January 27, 2017, the City has the authority to sell this lien to a third party, or lienholder, in a process called a lien sale. The following property types are eligible for the 2017 lien sale:

  1. Tax Class 1 mixed use, two and three family homes with $2,000 or more in water and sewer charges outstanding for a year or more
  2. Tax Class 2 multi-family homes including condos with $1,000 or more in water and sewer charges outstanding for a year or more
  3. All commercial properties with $1,000 or more in water and sewer charges outstanding for a year or more

When the City sells a lien, it is not selling the property. The new lienholder does not take title to the property. The lienholder purchases the right to collect the money that was previously owed to the City. Ultimately, however, if the property owner does not pay what is owed, the lienholder can begin formal foreclosure proceedings.

The 2017 lien sale process will begin on February 10, 2017. Customers will have until May 11, 2017 to arrange for payment, and those who do not will have the lien on their property sold on May 12, 2017.

What should I do if I receive a lien sale notice?

If you have received a lien sale notice by mail or if your property has been listed on a published lien sale list, it means that DEP’s records show that your delinquent water and sewer charges meet the eligibility criteria for the 2017 lien sale.

As a result, a lien for the entire delinquent amount will be sold in the 2017 lien sale, unless you resolve your debt by May 11, 2017.

The most important thing for you to do is contact the Department of Environmental Protection immediately by calling (718) 595-7000. You must arrange for payment, or, if you think that you do not owe the money, you must dispute the charges with DEP on or before May 2, 2017. If payment has not been arranged by May 11, 2017, and the charges are not in dispute, the lien on your property will be sold.

Who is eligible for the lien sale?

Under the new legislation, mixed use, 2 and 3 family homes are eligible if they owe $2,000 or more in water and sewer charges outstanding for a year or more. Multi-tenant residential properties, including condos and most commercial buildings are eligible for the lien sale if they owe $1,000 or more in water and sewer charges outstanding for a year or more.

Single-family homes and residential customers receiving the Senior Citizen Homeowners’ Exemption (SCHE), the Disabled Homeowners’ Exemption (DHE) or the State Personal Income Tax (PIT) Circuit-Breaker Tax Credit are exempt from the lien sale. Active duty military personnel may also request an exemption from the lien sale by completing an affidavit that provides information about their military service, their property, tax warrants, Environmental Control Board violations, etc. Download this affidavit at nyc.gov/liensale

How do I make a payment?

Customers can make payment by using any of the following methods:

  • To pay by mail

    Send your payment (check or money order) to:

    NYC Water Board
    P.O. Box 11863
    Newark, NJ 07101-8163

    To ensure your payment is correctly processed, please make your payment to NYC Water Board, and write your DEP account number on your check or money order.

  • To pay online

    DEP now offers a variety of enhancements and options for account holders through the DEP website. Use your computer, smartphone, or tablet to make payments any time. For both online and mobile payments, you can pay via automated transfer from your checking or savings account without an additional charge. We will also accept credit and debit card payments, including MasterCard, Discover and American Express cards, for a 2.25% convenience fee. We do not accept Visa.

    Register for a My DEP Account (click on “My DEP Account and Online Bill Pay” blue button in the top right corner)

    • View your water usage
    • Sign-up for leak notifications
    • Enroll in paperless billing

    Create a Payment Profile in your My DEP Account. If you already have a payment profile, you will be prompted to create a new access code when you sign in. This access code is an added level of security that will further protect your personal information. We also offer the following payment features:

    • Easy one-time payments save your payment information on our secure payment site
    • Automatic bill payments set up a recurring payment for your DEP bills
    • Consolidated payments initiate a single transaction to pay multiple DEP bills

    QuickPay - pay a bill without logging in! Look for the QuickPay shortcut next to the My DEP Account login.

  • To pay by phone

    Customers can pay their water bill over the phone by calling (866) 622-8292. This automated service lets you pay with a checking/savings account or a credit/debit card. A 2.25% fee applies to payments made with a credit/debit card.

  • To pay in-person

    Contact DEP’s call center at (718) 595-7000 to schedule an appointment with a DEP customer service representative at our central office or at one of our borough offices.

    • Manhattan - 1250 Broadway, 8th Floor (Enter on 32nd Street)
    • Bronx - 1932 Arthur Avenue, Room 601 (Corner of Arthur and East Tremont)
    • Brooklyn - 250 Livingston Street, 8th Floor (Between Hoyt and Bond Street, alternate entrance at 233 Schermerhorn Street)
    • Queens - 96-05 Horace Harding Expressway, 1st Floor (Between Junction Boulevard and 99th Street)
    • Queens – 59-17 Junction Boulevard, 13th Floor (Central Office -enter on Junction Blvd.)
    • Staten Island - 60 Bay Street, 6th Floor (Between Slossen Terrace and Hyatt Street)

Can I enter into a payment agreement?

If you have received a lien sale notice or would like to consolidate your debt, you may be eligible for a payment agreement, which will allow you to gradually pay off your debt over time. DEP is now offering payment agreements to customers with $0 down and a repayment period lasting anywhere from 1 to 10 years. Starting January 1, 2012, customers will receive a consolidated bill each month that combines interest, installments, and new water and sewer charges into one bill. You must appear at our central office or any one of our borough offices listed above if you wish to enter into a payment agreement. The property owner should have a valid form of identification to enter into a payment agreement. If the property owner is unable to appear in person, they may send an authorized representative. An authorized representative may be any one of the following:

  • Anyone who presents a notarized letter of authorization issued by the property’s owner.
  • Anyone who presents a valid (issued within the last 12 months) or durable power of attorney issued by the property’s owner (note that a power of attorney expires upon the death of the property owner).
  • Anyone who presents a document from a Court declaring that they have the authority to transact business on behalf of the property as an executor/executrix, administrator, trustee etc.

    (Heirs/heiresses to properties must have at least one of the above named documents in order to enter into a payment agreement with NYC DEP. If an heir/heiress does not have the required documentation they may not enter into a payment agreement with NYC DEP. However, they may be able to receive a stay by signing an Agreement for Intestate Property (see link below) which states that the NYC DEP will give the heir/heiress at least one year to acquire the necessary documentation from either a Court authorizing them to conduct business on behalf of the property in question).

The representative must also have valid identification. Property owners’ representatives who wish to make a down payment may do so via mail, online, telephone, or in-person. Also, property owners’ or their representatives, who appear in person to pay, on or before May 2, 2017, may do so with personal checks, money orders, certified checks, and bank/cashier’s checks. Property owners’ or their representatives who plan to pay after May 2, 2017 should appear in person to do so with an official bank/certified check or money order to ensure timely processing and to prevent the sale of the lien(s).

Partial payments or payments in full may be made by any person or entity at any time.

In the event of any failure to pay the full consolidated bill each month, when the payment is due, DEP and the NYC Water Board will undertake all efforts provided under law and equity to recover the full sum due. Customers who default on their payment agreement by missing partial or full monthly payment(s) for a period of 7 or more months may cure the default by:

  1. Bringing all installment payments, current charges and interest that are outstanding at the time of default to a current status; or
  2. signing a new payment agreement for the current balance which must include at least a 20% down payment.

If the customer fails to either cure the defaulted payment agreement or sign a new payment agreement prior to the City tax lien sale and the delinquent charges are sold, no payment agreement may be entered into for the subsequent charges for the subject property for a period of five (5) years unless they claim and have proof of extenuating circumstances as described below. If the property is subject to another tax lien, the customer may elect (one-time only) to enter into an installment agreement for the amount due that is subject to the subsequent tax lien before the end of the five-year period and without a claim of extenuating circumstances, but they must make at least a 20% down payment. Extenuating circumstances may be defined as:

  • The death of the signatory to the agreement, of any person named on the deed for the property or of a contributing household member.
  • A loss of income to the signatory, to any person named on the deed for the property or to a contributing household member due to his or her involuntary absence from the property for any consecutive period of six months or more for treatment of an illness, for military service, or pursuant to a court order, that results in a default of the agreement or inability to cure the default prior to the date of sale of the tax lien or tax liens.
  • A loss of income to the signatory to the agreement, to any person named on the deed for the property or to a contributing household member due to his or her unemployment for any consecutive period of six months or more that results in a default of the agreement or inability to cure the default prior to the date of sale of the tax lien or tax liens.

A “contributing household member” shall mean any person eighteen years of age or older who has lived in the property that is the subject of the installment agreement at least since the execution of the agreement and has paid household expenses since the execution of the agreement in an amount equal to at least fifty percent of each installment amount due under the agreement.

By paying your monthly consolidated bill in full and on time every month, the lien on your property will not be subjected to a City tax lien sale or any further collection action.

For more information, please call (718)-595-7000.

What are the consequences of non-payment?

Eligible customers who do not arrange for payment by May 11, 2017 will have their water and sewer charges sold in the 2017 lien sale.

What happens after a lien is sold?

Within 90 days after the lien sale date, the City notifies all property owners by mail of (a) the terms and conditions under which the lien was sold, (b) the name of the new lienholder and (c) the name of the lienholder’s authorized representative whom the property owner should contact. The representative will also contact the property owner to discuss payment arrangements.

Are there any financial assistance programs available?

Multi family homeowners who are on the 2017 90-day lien sale list and are currently under threat of foreclosure or mortgage delinquency may apply for DEP’s Water Debt Assistance Program (WDAP). If qualified, DEP will remove their property from the upcoming 2017 lien sale and defer the debt until the property is sold, refinanced, or the owner has the ability to pay the debt. To learn more about the Water Debt Assistance Program, click on the link below.

How can I learn more?

For more information about the lien sale, or for specific information about your water and sewer account, call DEP’s customer call center at (718) 595-7000 Monday through Friday between 9am and 6pm, or Saturday between 9am and 2pm.

Extended Hours

Lien Sale Extended Hours: Starting April 24, 2017 and ending May 11, 2017, all Borough Offices will be open from 9am to 7pm on weekdays and 9am to 2pm on Saturday May 6th, 2017.

Ombudsman Office

In 2007, DEP opened the Office of the Ombudsman, a unit responsible for providing special assistance to all water and sewer account holders undergoing the lien sale process. To contact the Ombudsman, please call (718) 595-6628 or send an email to ombuds@dep.nyc.gov The Ombudsman will be offering extended hours during the 90-day lien sale period. However, extended hours for the Ombudsman’s office have not been established yet.

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