Advice on Utility Charges After Chapter 7 & Foreclosure
My home was surrendered as part of a Chapter 7. Can the water and sewer companies still charge me?
I was discharged in a chapter 7 bankruptcy in feb 08. My home was surrendered as part of this bankruptcy and is being foreclosed. I have not lived in the home since july of 07 and had canceled all utilities. Can the water and sewer utility company legally reopen my closed account with them and start charging me base rate fees. Any info would be appreciated
Generally, a consumer who is forced to leave his or her home will contact the utility companies to have utility services such as electricity, gas, and water disconnected. From your question, it sounds like you did have these utility services turned off, but that the utility providers have since reactivated the accounts and are charging you a minimum monthly service fee. I am not sure why the utility company has started charging you the base rate for these services, especially if it previously terminated your service.
Contact the water company to inquire about these charges; the company should be able to tell you why it is charging you the base utility rate for services to your former residence, and what steps you can take to correct past bills and prevent future charges. Hopefully, the water company will be willing to correct these apparently improper charges once you explain the fact that your home has been foreclosed and that you have not been in possession of the property for over year. If you would like to read more about foreclosure, you can visit the Bills.com foreclosure page.
It is possible that the water company is charging you for base rate service because the property and the utility accounts are still in your name despite the fact that you have not lived in the home since July, 2007. You state in your question that your past home has been "in foreclosure" since mid-2007, though you do not indicate if you are still the legal owner of the property. If you are still the legal owner, it is likely that no one has opened a new account with the water company, which may explain why new charges are appearing on your account, especially if anyone is using the utilities.
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Whether the water and sewer utility can legally charge you the base rate for the utilities in this home will likely depend on your state and municipal laws regulating utility companies. Contact the utility company to inquire about these charges; the utility will hopefully be able to explain why the charges were made, and what recourse is available to you if you feel the charges were posted to your account improperly. If the water company refuses to assist you with removing these charges from your account, you may want to contact your local utility authority to complaint about the charges.
File a complaint with your state Attorney General’s office. Finally, you may wish to consult with an attorney in your area to discuss these charges and determine if you are legally responsible for the utility bills you have received. If you determine that you are not liable, you may be able to pursue legal action against the utility service provider to force them to stop charging you.
I wish you the best of luck in resolving this dispute, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.