What should I do with the unpaid water bill from the previous owner of my property? 3 Answers as of September 18, 2012

I am the first time homebuyer and ran into this problem that has not been solved for over a year already. I purchased my property back in August 31 of 2011. Couple days after I closed and moved into my new home, I received a water bill with the reading of my usage and the outstanding amount from the previous owner. I called my Water and Sewage Company. They told me to work out with my Title Company and my Realtor. I happened to run into the previous owner and told him to come to my house and pick up his water bill. He ignored me like he didn't know what I was talking about. I emailed my realtor several times. He ignored my emails. After a year of going back and forth, the lady named "Sarah" at Title Company finally gave me an answer that "there's nothing that they could do and bill is all on me". They repeatedly lied to me that they would contact the previous owner and water company for me to work it out. They never did making any contacts. Now, I am stuck with $400 water bill that I was not even aware of until I moved into my house. I decided to make a small claim at local court. I was told that I need to know and find out where those people live in order to make a small claim. But I am lost and confused now of what to do and how to find the previous owners' address and whereabout in order to file small claim to make them pay for the unpaid water bill. Now my Water Company stated that they decided to put $400 onto my upcoming Winter Tax. What should I do?

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James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C.
James T. Weiner & Associates, P.C. | James T. Weiner
This is part of the reason anyone buying a house needs an attorney!First pay the bill.. Second..You can go to small claims and sue the former owner...You might be able to sue your realtor and the title company also.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/18/2012
Olson Law Firm | Edward M Olson
This is why you need an attorney with you at the closing. The bill is now yours (and it is a lien against the house, so you better pay it). You can sue the former owner in small claims court... but only if your purchase agreement required the former owner to pay the bill.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/18/2012
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
Pay the bill, it is your damages. Google the prior owner and try to get a new address. If they are local, sue them in small claims. If they are not, forget it, it will cost you more than you can recover. Also check to see if there was a water escrow in your closing documents, if there was and it was released prematurely, it is possible that the title company has a liability.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 9/17/2012
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