Winnipeg man may have to pay $87,000 water bill for new home
Published Saturday, October 31, 2015 1:57PM EDT
A Winnipeg homeowner is voicing concerns after receiving an $87,000 water bill for his recently-purchased bungalow.
Tom Kisiloski, 86, works with his son to flip homes in the city, and says he's purchased and fixed up about a dozen houses in the past.
But what he thought was a routine project has turned into a potentially unaffordable purchase.
Kisiloski says he was unaware of any outstanding water expenses when he bought the bungalow for $200,000 in June.
So when the city told him he owed $87,000 for an unpaid water bill, he was shocked.
"The numbers are way high," he told CTV Winnipeg.
According to the staff at Coun. Ross Eadie's office, there was a problem with the way the previous owner reported water meter numbers to the city.
Staff say the issue wasn't discovered until the bungalow sale was finalized.
Now, under section 210 of the City of Winnipeg Charter, Kisiloski may be responsible for footing the bill, even though he wasn't the one who racked up the charges.
According to this section of the bylaw, the city can collect water fees "by adding the amount … to real property taxes imposed by the city on the real property to which the water was supplied."
In other words, "water bills follow the property, not the owner," the city said in a statement to CTV Winnipeg.
"This means that any unpaid water bills will be added to property taxes. Anyone who buys a property and learns of unpaid water charges from the previous property owner should consult with a lawyer."
In past cases, lawyers have included clauses that require the bill to be paid off before a home sale is finalized.
But in this situation, Kisiloski says, he didn't know the charges existed when he bought the bungalow.
"We did our due diligence," Kisiloski's son, Larry Kisiloski, said. "We're not new at this. Certainly the city's got to take some fault for this."
The younger Kisiloski said he thought the city should have flagged the issue much earlier, and that his father will struggle to cover the unexpected cost.
"(The cost) would cripple us, there's no doubt about it," he said, noting that $87,000 is "a lot of money."
Eadie, who is Kisiloski's councillor, agrees.
He said he thinks the bylaw needs to be adjusted to avoid similar situations.
"I just don't think the city should put a bill of $87,000 on people who had nothing to do with past water consumption," he told CTV Winnipeg.
For now, Kisiloski has hired a lawyer to help him sort through the situation.
And even though he's finished renovating the property, he says his lawyers recommend he puts selling the house on hold, until the water bill is settled.
Until that happens, Kisiloski says, "It's just a wait and see game."
With files from CTV Winnipeg