Woman upset she's held responsible for her dead brother's $2,000 water bill

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A Valley woman says she's being held responsible for a $2,000 water bill that belongs to someone else.

She says the water bill is in her brother's name and her brother is dead.

"When I got married my brother walked me down the isle."

As Ellen Hoeskstra points out photos from her wedding she remembers how close she and her brother were. So, when he passed away, it came as a shock. "I tried calling him and I couldn't get a hold of him, I tried all day, couldn't get a hold of him, so I came over that night and I found him dead on the floor," says Ellen.

However, that is not all she found at the house her brother rented from her. "I kept hearing it and hearing it, so I finally went over and looked at the front of the house and there was a pipe on the front of the house that had burst, and it was just spewing water."

She was able to stop the running water and never thought twice about it, until she tried to sell the house her brother rented from her. Ellen says she found an alarming note on the front door. "There was a door hanger on the door saying they were disconnecting the water for non-payment of $1,569.47." The large water bill was from that broken pipe, and to complicate matters, the outstanding balance was holding up the sale of her home.

"The realtor told me to call all the utilities and have them turned on temporarily for the inspection," Ellen says. Unless she paid her deceased brother's bill, which was a bill that was in his name, the sale would not go through.

"I kept telling them he died, and they kept saying it doesn't matter that he died."

To make matters worse, the amount due to the water department kept growing. "She told me that there was $2,000 owing and that they weren't turning the water on until they got their $2,000."

3 On Your Side contacted the water department and they said they would immediately look into the matter. Once they did, Ellen got some more unexpected news. "It was so good, I didn't expect it that quickly, and they totally negated the bill."

Ellen says the City of Phoenix waived the bill after simply providing them with her brother's death certificate. She can now move forward with selling the house and start picking up the pieces of her life again. "I'm so glad I thought of calling you. I am just astounded at how well and how quickly, what a good job you guys did."