Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Still paying for their house of pain

Why was this 1997 flood junk put on the real estate market?

  • Print
IT is the real estate deal from hell.

But that doesn't even begin to describe the misery that Artur and Tara-Lee Maciuszonek have endured since they unwittingly purchased a house damaged in the 1997 Flood of the Century.

Damaged so badly, in fact, that the Maciuszoneks had to have it demolished.

Now they pay rent for an apartment outside the city.

While still paying the mortgage on a house that doesn't exist.

How did they end up falling into this murky, mucky financial sinkhole?

The Maciuszoneks claim that their agent, Mark Beleshinski of Realty International Inc., advised them not to pay for a home inspection.

Beleshinski declined to comment on Thursday.

He cited an ongoing investigation into the matter by the Manitoba Securities Commission, which regulates real estate agents.

The agent for the vendor, Heather Streu of Royal LePage, had no problems telling her side of the story, though.

Streu said she didn't know it was a flood house, only that it had been moved from another location.

In any event, the Maciuszoneks say the house's history was never disclosed, which it should have been, given that it turned out to be not only a health hazard but uninhabitable.

Aside from how the house was sold, there's another odious question that needs answering.

How could this mouldy lemon of a house even end up on the market?

The story, as told by the Maciuszoneks, goes this way.

When the "Red Sea" washed over southern Manitoba in the spring of 1997, the house was located at 170 Greenview Place in St. Germaine.

Aside from how the house was sold, there's another odious question that needs answering.

How could this mouldy lemon of a house even end up on the market?

The story, as told by the Maciuszoneks, goes this way.

When the "Red Sea" washed over southern Manitoba in the spring of 1997, the house was located at 170 Greenview Place in St. Germaine.

After the 1997 flood, the province purchased the 1,800-square-foot, four-level-split house from the owners under the flood assistance program.

A few years later, the province sold it at auction for a mere $13,000.

The purchasers then moved the house from St. Germaine to an acreage in St. Clement, where they placed it on a new foundation at 4900 Rebeck Road.

Then in 2005, when one of the owners was transferred out of province, the house was put up for sale.

It sat empty on the market for several months.

Until the Maciuszoneks purchased it in February 2006.

The price: approximately $185,000.

The young couple knew it needed work.

But it was only when they began the renovations that they realized something was very wrong.

"While removing the stipple from the ceiling," they wrote in their letter to the Manitoba Securities Commission, "the drywall caved in and showed the water and mould damage beneath. The water issues were hidden with paint and wallpaper. The roof had leaks throughout and all the insulation had been saturated..."

There was more.

According to the Maciuszoneks, the house wasn't properly secured to the foundation, the electrical work wasn't properly done and there were structural issues.

They figured it all out only when their neighbour got to talking.

He mentioned that the previous owner was always talking about how he got the house cheap from the government.

As a flood home.

For the last nine months, the Maciuszoneks have been trying to get the Doer government to listen to their story.

After all, it was the province that sold this lemon and let it loose on the real estate market.

But it wasn't until Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard raised the couple's plight during question period in the legislature Thursday that the government was forced to deal with it.

Gerrard wanted the government to commit to some sort of compensation.

Minister of Finance Greg Selinger wouldn't.

But later -- after he met with me and the couple -- he seemed to leave the door to compensation slightly ajar, if not wide open.

I suggested the government had a duty to make sure the land title to the house carried a disclosure that it was a flood home.

If it had, the Maciuszoneks wouldn't be paying rent for an apartment and paying a mortgage on a house that doesn't exist.

"I agree with you in principle that when you're selling something that's a flood home that everybody should know what you're getting," Selinger said. "I mean, that kind of makes sense."

Jon Gerrard called compensation an ethical issue.

Doing the right thing, as it were.

But when they got home Thursday, Artur and Tara-Lee found an e-mail waiting from Judith Baldwin, co-ordinator of Premier's Secretariat.

Writing "on behalf of the Premier," Baldwin offered no hope.

Just some gratuitous advice.

"If you have not already done so, you may want to speak to a lawyer..."

Of course, the government can always fall back on the legal issue.

Buyer beware.

But, I would argue, buyers shouldn't have to beware of a government that sold a flood house.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 30, 2007 $sourceSection$sourcePage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Your top TV picks for Dec. 1-4

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- WINTER FILE. Snowboarder at Stony Mountain Ski Hill. November 14, 2006.
  • Hay bales sit under a rainbow just west of Winnipeg Saturday, September 3, 2011.(John Woods/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Canada send heavy military equipment to Ukraine?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google