His New Neighbor Demanded He Pays a Bill that The Previous Homeowner Owed, He Denied All Responsibility and Refused to Pay, Would You Do the Same?

A man had recently purchased an investment property, and was temporarily at the property, solely to renovate it. He hadn’t intended to form neighborly bonds considering he would soon be selling the property, yet he soon met a neighbor who presented him with a highly unexpected request.

Meeting the Neighbor 

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Whilst renovating the property one day, the man bumped into the neighboring homeowner. “He introduced himself and we made some small talk, but he soon got right to the point”, the man began.

The Unpleasant Surprise

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“He asked me to pay an outstanding bill”, the man recounted. “He and the previous owner of my new house had their sewer line snaked and each owner would pay 50%. It seems like the previous owner stiffed my new neighbor on the payment. My “share” of the bill was $400!”

Offering a Solution

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At first, the man tried to be understanding. He offered to provide the previous owner’s contact information so the neighbor could pursue payment from her directly, which seemed like a reasonable solution.

Friction Emerges

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However, this suggestion did not satisfy the neighbor. He expressed his frustration, indicating that his attempts to contact the previous owner had failed. 

Getting Snappy

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Whilst the man empathized with his neighbor’s situation, he hardly felt that it was his problem, and began to get snappy. “I sarcastically asked him if he honestly thought that asking me to pay her bill was a genuine solution”, he recounted.

An Uncomfortable Standoff

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Unfortunately, the man’s response led to the conversation quickly turning tense. The neighbor insisted that the bill was now the man’s responsibility because he was benefiting from a clean sewer line. The man couldn’t have disagreed more, arguing that the transaction between the neighbor and the previous owner was not his concern.

No Compromise in Sight

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As the discussion continued, it became clear that neither party was willing to budge. The neighbor threatened to return the next day for the man’s final decision. “I told him he doesn’t need to wait – my final decision was a resounding ‘no’”, the man laughed.

A Stand for Boundaries

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The man tried to end the conversation on a somewhat civil note. He expressed regret that the encounter had taken a sour turn and advised the neighbor against pursuing such matters in the future, emphasizing the importance of cordial neighborly relations whilst he was there renovating.

Angry Encounters

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Ever since that initial encounter, tensions between the man and the neighbor remained sour. Every time they crossed paths, the neighbor appeared visibly angry, reflecting the irreparable damage done to their neighborly relationship.

Reflections on the Situation

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The man found himself torn between feeling guilty for the early strain on his relationship with the neighbor and being offended by the audacity of the request. He knew his property laws and truly believed that he was not responsible for the previous homeowner’s outstanding debts. However, he also wondered if he was in the wrong for shutting down the neighbor’s request so bluntly.

Venting Online 

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The man headed to an online agony aunt to vent his frustrations, whilst also asking readers whether they believed he had acted rightly or wrongly. To his relief, no one took the neighbor’s side. “You’re absolutely in the right, and $400 seems like a lot to have a house snaked”, pointed out one reader. “It sounds to me like he’s trying to get you to pay the entire bill for both houses.”

Getting Legal

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Everyone believed the man knew what he was talking about legally. “Why would you pay someone else’s bill on their behalf?”, another reader asked. “If they expect you to do that, they’re being a jerk… unless of course there is any legal basis as to why the current owner would owe that bill, but you sound like you know your legal rights.”

A Relatable Incident

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To the man’s surprise, one reader had gone through an almost identical situation: “I had this issue with a neighbor when I purchased my house, but about tree work”, they wrote. “The neighbor was stiffed by the previous owner and wanted us to pay. I did the same thing – shut it down and moved on. You should do the same.”

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