New Detroit homeowner stuck with $5,200 water bill after previous owner didn't pay full amounts

Dr. Nicole Geissinger moved to Detroit from Wisconsin and bought her first home in April, so she could further her training at the DMC.

Everything was going well for her until she received a water bill for more than $5,200.

"I accidentally found out about it when I called to dispute my bill," she said.

She said something seemed off when her bill went up even when she didn't use more water, so the city came out and read the meter. 

Geissinger said she contacted the seller, who sent her water bills that had been paid for the past five years.

"I had an excellent real estate agent, we did a title search, had a great inspector, everything to my knowledge that is standard for buying a new home," she said.

At closing the standard $200 was put in escrow to pay a normal outstanding water bill.  

"I can't imagine I'm the only one who's in a situation, if not exactly like this, very similar to this" Geissinger said.

After digging a little deeper, it appeared that the seller's rather nominal water bills over the years –  $52, $69, $46 – didn't make much sense, and the true charges did add up. 

The city's water department said Geissinger is responsible for paying the bill, per Michigan law, though she can dispute the bill with the seller if she wants.  

If you are buying a new one, ensure you get a reading of the water meter at closing.