Homebuyers Beware – Is the Seller Current on the Water Bill?

If you are purchasing a home in a county with a countywide water system (e.g. Butler County), you should be aware of a little known wrinkle in the law that could leave you on the hook for your seller’s water bill.

R.C. 6103.02(G) gives a county water works three options to collect unpaid water bills: create a lien against the property; collect against the owner or tenant; or even terminate the water service until the outstanding bill is paid.

These methods of collection apply not only to the tenant or owner who incurred the water bill, but subsequent purchasers as well.

This has become an issue in recent years as Butler County Ohio has become aggressive in its collection efforts, often ensnaring unwitting homebuyers.

Protect Yourself

One thing every homebuyer can do is simply ask the question: Are there any outstanding water bills?

State law gives buyers another option, R.C. 6103.02(G) allows a buyer, or her agent, to request that the county have the meter read and to provide a final bill for the property before the closing. Such request must be made at least fourteen days prior to the closing date, and the county has ten days to read the meter and provide the final bill.

Make sure any unpaid balance is paid prior to closing.

Those steps will help you avoid an unpleasant water bill as you settle into your new home.

Learn more about important questions to ask when you buy a home here.