Understanding Your Water and Sewer Facilities Assessment

These fees are not related to the actual usage of water and sewer services, but are fees imposed by the builder or developer of your community to recover all or a portion of the costs of installing water and sewer components and systems for the community.  These fees continue for a period of time, typically 20 to 40 years, and are binding on all lots subject to the specific declaration.. These fees are public record and were likely disclosed in the contract of the original property homeowner.  These fees also should be disclosed by the manner specified by the specific declaration and pursuant to local law.

U.S. Utility is responsible for collecting these fees for the owner of the annual assessment, which may be the community developer or builder or another investor. Our firm works closely with developers, builders, and title companies in all matters related to water and sewer facilities charges.

Please note that U.S. Utility Corporation and U.S. Utility, LLC are different entities. Please refer to the “Management Services” tab on this website for the specific owner of your assessment and the specific management company. This information is also located on the top left corner of the annual assessment invoice. 

Homeowners will receive an invoice from the owner of the assessment via U.S. Utility and can pay their bill by mailing a check to our office located at 10176 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 210, Ellicott City, Maryland 21042.

Address Changes

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Disclaimer: Any contact information provided will be solely used for the records of U.S. Utility and will not be sold to a third party. 

Homeowner FAQ

If you just received your first bill for a water and sewer facilities assessment, you may have questions about what the fee covers. The following are answers to the questions homeowners frequently ask us about their private water and sewer assessment changes:

What are other common names for this Water and Sewer Facilities Assessment?
These charges are often called “Front Foot Benefit Fees” or “Water and Sewer Facilities Charges.”

What am I being charged for? 

In the past, local governments installed the water and/or sewer components and systems for new subdivisions, and then recouped the cost of construction over a period of years from each individual property, which benefits from the services, by either a “Front Foot Benefit Charge” or an addition to the real estate tax bill. However, most jurisdictions now require developers to install all water and/or sewer infrastructure in new subdivisions. Developers manage the construction of these water and/or sewer facilities, and dedicate them to the utility provider (town, county, or sanitary commission), which assumes responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the public infrastructure installed. The developer is no longer responsible for the operation or maintenance of the water and/or sewer facilities once dedicated to the utility provider. Similar to the prior governmental approach, developers can recoup these infrastructure costs by establishing a recorded contract and covenant against all properties which will benefit from the utility connections at or near the time of construction that runs with the land and binds each owner of the property. These obligations require the initial homeowner and each subsequent homeowner of the property to pay an assessment for a fixed term of years. If you have received an assessment notice, then the developer or builder of your community elected to recoup the infrastructure costs through this method that requires all homeowners to pay for these improvements. Please note that this assessment is not the same as, nor should it be confused with, the individual water and/or sewer home consumption charges billed by the utility provider, which are separate and distinct from the obligations imposed by the original developer of the subdivision. Whether you are the first purchaser of the home or not, the assessment is required to be paid as and when due until the obligation secured by the declaration has been paid in full.

Why doesn’t my water bill cover this?

Your periodic water bill represents charges for water and sewage usage and is imposed by the utility provider based on the volume of water supplied and sewage processed by it. In other words, your water bill is the charge for the actual water and sewer flow through the pipes, whereas, the private water and/or sewer facilities assessment is for construction of the pipes.

Can these charges be enforced?

Yes, it is a legal and enforceable charge, just as homeowner’s association dues and condominium fees are. This water and/or sewer facilities assessment is established through the recordation of a declaration in the county land records.

Who is responsible for the charges?
As the owner of your home, you are responsible for paying the charge(s). If your bank or mortgage company established an escrow account for homeowners insurance and real property taxes, it may also escrow for the private water and/or sewer facilities assessment. You should confirm this, and if an escrow was established, forward the bill to your lender with a request that it be paid from your escrow account. You will continue to receive a bill even if it is paid through your escrow, and you are responsible for forwarding the bill to your escrow manager each year. If funds are not escrowed for payment of this assessment, you should timely mail your payment directly to “U.S. Utility Corporation” at 10176 Baltimore National Pike, Suite 210, Ellicott City, Maryland 21042.

Local laws and the terms of the specified utility declaration may provide that a prior homeowner has some responsibility for portion of the unpaid balance if it was not disclosed by the sale contract or if the balance accrued due to nonpayment by the prior homeowner. If applicable, those issues must be resolved between you and the prior homeowner—U.S. Utility has no role in resolving those matters. Please remember, however, that as the property homeowner, you are ultimately responsible for payment of the charges. Similar to a mortgage, if the assessments are not timely paid, the utility declaration may be enforced pursuant to its provisions and applicable law.

If the property is leased, any allocation of responsibility for payment of these assessments in the lease may be binding on the holder/landlord and tenant, but is not binding on the homeowner of the assessment rights. Accordingly, the homeowner of the property remains liable for payment.

Why didn’t my title company tell me about this when I purchased my home?
The purchase of a home is an exciting and often challenging process. Mortgage laws and practices require an ever increasing amount of disclosures and paperwork, resulting in the review and signature of a lot of information at the closing table. In most closings, title companies identify and disclose the existence of the water and/or sewer facilities assessment.

When you purchased your home, the seller should have disclosed the assessment to you.  Sometimes, the seller or title company identifies the assessment, but does not discuss it in detail with the purchaser(s). Occasionally, title companies miss the declaration that establishes the assessment during their title search, or the seller fails to disclose the assessment to the buyer.

If you do not recall hearing about or receiving information regarding the assessment, you should review your homeowner’s title insurance policy. Schedule B-Section II of the insurance policy typically identifies the circumstances and title matters that are excepted from or not covered by the title insurance. You may find that the declaration establishing the water and sewer facilities assessment is listed as an exception.

If the declaration is not identified as an exception, or if you cannot locate your title insurance policy or otherwise have questions regarding disclosure of this assessment, please contact the title company or agency that conducted your settlement. If the assessment was missed, your title insurance may cover some or all of the remaining assessment balance.

The previous homeowner incurred a large amount of debt on this account.  What do I do?
Contact your title company. Your title insurance may cover the outstanding balance of the previous homeowner. You may also consider contacting an attorney to discuss the prior homeowner’s obligations. Regardless, you should ensure that the balance is paid in a timely manner to avoid enforcement of the contract and covenant that encumbers your property.

Where can I find legal documentation regarding the assessment?
The declaration that established the assessment can be found in the land records maintained by the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the county in which your property is located. It may also be available from your title company. If the water and/or sewer facility assessment was paid or prorated at settlement, your closing disclosure should contain a line captioned “Water & Sewer Facilities Assessment,” “Water & Sewer Facilities Charge,” “Front Foot Benefit Fee,” “W.A.S.,” or “F.F.B.” Additionally, if you purchased a new home from the builder, your contract with the builder probably contains a disclosure statement or addendum that describes the assessment.

How do I pay my bill and when is it due?
We accept payments by check or money order only. At this time, we are not set up to accept credit cards or payment by phone. You may send your payment by mail to the “remit to” address found on the bill. Payment of the next assessment is due on the due date set forth in the assessment notice. Please include your account number and the property address on the check or money order to ensure that it is properly credited to your account.

Can I prepay?
Yes, you are always welcome to send in payments ahead of time to be credited to your account for the next billing cycle. You also have the right to pay this assessment in full for an amount equal to the present value of the future assessments at a discounted rate per annum. If interested in early pay off of the assessment, please mail us a request in writing.

What happens when I pay in full?
If you pay off the assessment early, you will receive a discounted rate on all remaining future assessments. When the assessment is paid off early, your lot will be released from the declaration and the release will be recorded in the county land records.

*Federal law may require us to inform you that U.S. Utility Corporation and U.S. Utility, LLC are debt collectors, this may be considered an attempt to collect a debt, and any information obtained may be used for that purpose.

*This information is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice on any subject matter. 

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

Office Phone: 410-418-4553

Fax: 410-418-5598

Email: info@us-utility.com

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