When it comes to determining if you are going to file a bankruptcy a number of questions begin popping up. People ask about student loans, homes, cars, etc. It is often not until they are just about to file that some of the more subtle questions are asked. One of those questions is:
What Happens If I’m Behind On My Utility Bills?
If you are in this situation, understand that this happens quite frequently. When creditors are calling and driving you up a wall, sometimes a utility payment gets paid to another company instead, just to shut them up. After all, the utility companies don’t make quite as much noise when you miss a payment. The downside is that before you know it, you are a couple of months behind and making partial payments.
The good news is that you can include those back payments in your bankruptcy. When you do this, the utility company cannot shut off your utilities for20 days after the time you file. After you file they cannot shut off your service for non-payment of the bill you owed before you filed, but they could then stop service for non-payment of any service used after the filing. For service going forward, the utility companies are entitled to what’s called, Adequate assurance of payment for future services. Most of the time this is a deposit of some sort.
If the deposit amount is astronomical, the bankruptcy court has the power to reduce the amount if it agrees that it is too high. You will have to request a hearing from the court to see if the amount can be adjusted.
What Happens If The Utility Company Has Already Cut Off Services Before Filing?
If your service has been cut off prior to filing the service can be restored after you file. You will likely need to follow the new customer protocol of the utility company and pay a deposit if necessary, but the service can be restored.
What Happens If The Utility Company Cuts Off Service Anyway?
If the utility company violates the Federal Code and cuts off service in the 20-day window, then you have several remedies. Primarily you will be able to have the Court order them to restore service. If they willfully and knowingly violate the rule, then you may be able to try for a contempt citation. Lastly, if the utilities being shut off causes you harm or you are damaged in some way by this, then you may be able to see an award of damages against the utility company.