Some Ottawa homeowners in the east Ottawa community of Navan have been told to pay thousands of dollars for watermain work done 10 years ago.

The homes were on wells in 2003 when the then-owners offered to pay the City of Ottawa to connect their homes to city water.

The city agreed and installed the pipes, but didn't get around to charging the residents for the work until now.

When Barry Hayden bought his house on Navan Road in 2007 he hired a lawyer to conduct a standard title search.

Nothing came up, so Hayden assumed all was well. That is until this spring, when he opened a letter from the city of Ottawa.

"I'm told by the city you owe us $11,000, so obviously it was a big shock," said Hayden.

Title insurance not covering cost

Hayden said the previous owner never said anything about a looming bill and his title insurance won't cover the surprise cost.

Watermain work in Navan, Ottawa

Residents in Navan are now getting the bill for watermain work begun in 2003. (CBC)

On Thursday, Hayden and eight of his neighbours came to City Hall to ask a court of revision for some relief.

Councillor Scott Moffatt and his colleagues listened, but maintained the new home owners must cover the cost — even if the previous owner never mentioned it.

"We don't want it deferred any further. We want to make sure that those who are willing to pay or able to pay can get on with it and move forward," said Moffatt.

Option to not pay until June

City legal counsel Timothy Marc said the city was surprised title insurance companies weren't covering the costs.

Moffatt said city staff would look for possible relief for those people who moved in after construction and had obtained title insurance.

The city is also offering people the option to not pay until June 2014 and Moffatt said he is encouraging those people to choose that option.

Hayden said he thinks the city is being too harsh in going after costs 10 years later.

"They're acting like a sledgehammer. They do what they want to do. And I don't think they should be able to go back 10 years in all honesty," he said.

Hayden said he's considering lawsuits against both the city and his former lawyer.