• Action 9: Customers pay for sewer even though they're on septic

    By: Jason Stoogenke

    Updated:

    STANLEY, N.C. - Some people buy a home, thinking it's on the city's sewer system.  But, then, they find out the hard way it's on septic.

    When Joy Lee's family bought a house in Stanley a few years ago, they thought it was on the Town's sewer system.  

    "When we started receiving sewer bills, we assumed that we had sewer," she told Action 9.

    [ALSO READ: 9 Investigates: Charlotte Water pays back homeowners after sewer line accidents]

    Then, one day, she said "we had water backing up into our bathtub in the basement."  So they called a plumber.  The plumber told them they were on septic, not sewer.  

    "So, the next day, I had the Town of Stanley come out and verify if we were on sewer or not.  We were not," she said.  "For 49 months, we paid sewer charges."

    She asked the Town of Stanley for a refund.  But the Town said no.  It told Action 9 customers have to "pay a sewer charge if sewer is accessible to their home" -- even if they don't use it-- "just like any other municipality." 

    The Town town told Lee her family could tie into the system.  The Town would even waive the hookup fee, $3,500.  But the Town said it's always on the customer to pay for the infrastructure to connect the two.  That costs $1,000s.  

    Lee's family said it doesn't have the money so it's going to stay on septic for now.

    [ALSO READ: Homebuilders sue North Carolina city over sewer, water fees]

    The North Carolina Real Estate Commission cracks down on realtors who advertise a property was connected to city sewer, when it wasn't.  Action 9 found out the Commission just reprimanded one realtor in Concord, reprimanded another in Huntersville, and even suspended the license of one in Huntersville.

    Make sure you know if the house you're buying is on sewer or septic.  Your realtor may tell you you're on sewer.  The city or town may even send you a sewer bill.  But that doesn't mean you're actually on sewer.  Ask the municipality or hire a plumber.  And, remember, if you have to hook into the sewer system, that bill's on you.

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