The Bucking’s demand a formal apology from Reliance Home Comfort because the latter slapped a bill of $692.43 for a rental water heater the elderly couple had no idea of.
As first reported by CBC News, Herman and Patricia Bucking wanted a peaceful and happy retirement like every other senior couple. Thus, in 2010, they invested in what looked like an ideal property to build their dream home. It was 40 acres of agricultural land outside of Orangeville, Ontario. Without wanting to waste time they created a beautiful farmhouse by totally demolishing the old house which stood on the property.
The collection agency didn’t mince words when the notice was slapped unexpectedly on the couple. Patricia Bucking was stunned and unable to figure out the situation. She and her husband refused to comply with the demands made by the collectors.
In 2010, when the senior couple invested in the property, they had obtained the necessary government authorizations to demolish the previous owner’s home and build a new one. They were put in the dark about any existing rental water heater in the name of Reliance Home Comfort. In fact, when the couple signed the legal affidavit during the purchase it stated: “There are no rental contracts relating to any of the organizations or their components along the property.”
Patricia recalls this assertion: “There was absolutely nothing on there to say that there was anything attached to the property as far as rental equipment, or any paraphernalia at all,” she affirmed.
The Bucking’s are not the only one when it comes to fraudulent ownership agreements. Many of the homeowners just like them have contacted Go Public to deal with the legalities of rental contracts for furnaces, air conditioners, HVAC equipments that they weren’t aware of while signing the deed of the purchase.
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The senior couple went on to appoint a lawyer – Harjot Gill to represent them and bring Reliance Home Comfort to the books. Harjot Gill mentioned that, for the most part, owners never thoroughly examine the terms and ownership. They are subsequently caught in these unidentified lease agreements. He went on to say, “People are blindly bidding on attractive properties and moving into the homes without investigating the other aspects.”
Harjot Gill took the case of the senior pro bono as he knew that Reliance Home Comfort collection agents had committed this error many times. The cost of the unexplained water rental and legal fees did not keep Patricia up all night. However, she was more concerned that her credit score would be affected if they did not pay in time. She became nostalgic saying – “There were many times when we missed wonderful opportunities just to create a life where all the bills are paid on time.”
Since the company did not accept their explanation the Bucking’s had to consult Harjot Gill over the issue. Harjot Gill, who is now retired then set about on the legal formalities, he sent out a notice to Reliance Home Comfort stating that the Bucking’s were under no obligation to pay for the aforesaid bill. As a matter of fact, it was up to the previous owner to pay the dues. The legal opinion also stated that the Buckings had not been made aware of a water heater rented on the property by the former owner at the time the purchase agreement was signed.
Lawyer Harjot Gill explains that the Bucking cannot be held responsible for the mistakes made by the former owner who has since died. He further added that Reliance Home Comfort already has a clause that mentions – current homeowners can be held responsible only if the seller discloses them about rental equipments on the property. And only if the current owners agree to continue using the equipment by paying the rent. The Bucking’s weren’t responsible for any of this. Gill stated that since the previous owner had passed away the only way Reliance Home Comfort could now recover the imbursement was by listing a security interest on the land title.
Harjot Gill went on to investigate the title which came back clean, there was no mention of a rental water heater on the property.
The senior couple then received another letter in their mail box. But this time it was a formal notice by Reliance Home Comfort informing them that they would not face any more harassment from collection agencies regarding the rental invoice.
The letter has been sent by Mike Kolatschek, manager of corporate communications -Reliance Home Comfort. He testified that the company had been notified that the previous owner had rented a water heater. When the property was resold to the Bucking’s in 2010 the company assumed that they would continue using the rental water heater. As a result, the lease account was reopened and billing continued on the same basis. Since the rent remained outstanding during this supposed period, the company notified the collection agency.
Since the company now received the new communication from the Go Public office by lawyer Harjot Gill it resolved the messy issue. Mike Kolatschek additionally added in the letter that the $692.43 invoice is absolved. Thus ending the ordeal for the Bucking’s on a positive note.
There was one mystery to the whole situation though – Mike Kolatschek never revealed who notified the company about the Bucking’s land purchase. Herman Bucking further asserts this by declaring – “We had no knowledge of this deal.”
Patricia Bucking, although relieved for the moment, continues to say that she wants an official apology from Reliance Home Comfort for the stress the elderly couple had to endure. She also wants to be assured that the couple’s credit rating will not be impacted.
Harjot Gill added that most landlords in Canada remit the payment. They do not want to suffer at the hands of the debt collectors even though it is not their overdue. That makes companies like these to feast on the vulnerabilities of the people. Patricia and Herman Bucking had thought of the same, but then they decided to fight against this injustice. They were not willing to pay for the mistakes of the previous homeowner.
Hajot Gill concludes – “ It is a difficult yet enticing market for the homeowners who are looking to buy lavish properties without checking the details. My advice to them is get a lawyer and thoroughly check the title deed of the land. Most of the time sellers do not mention hidden rental correspondence on their properties. In such situation the real estate agents must dig deeper and the buyers must also ask relevant questions for the property owners before signing any papers. After all, one doesn’t want to be stuck in legal and financial hassles with a fraudulent land deed.”