Utilities in Bankruptcy

Debt From Delinquent Utility Bills

It’s common for debtors to fall behind on payment obligations such as paying utilities when money is tight.  When you begin the filing process you may wonder if you need to list these bills in your bankruptcy. Any delinquent accounts you have should be included in your filing.  Utility bills you may have fallen behind on such as the water, electric, phone and gas should all be reported.

When you file bankruptcy the debtor is required to list all delinquent accounts. This is a common oversight among debtors since many feel delinquent accounts are not a form of debt, even accounts you intend to pay such as your utilities. In doing so, the utility company is notified about your filing. The filing helps protect utility services from being shut-off during the proceeding by enacting the automatic stay.

Any collection attempts with delinquent accounts should cease when you file under the automatic stay. This includes billing statements, phone calls, and utility service termination notices.  At this point, the utility company is unable to collect on past due bills. You will, on the other hand, be obligated to pay on current bills you receive after you filed your case. If you don’t make payment on your new bills in a timely manner, you could lose service.

When your case is completely successful the delinquent debt will be discharged and you will no longer be obligated to pay it. Some utility companies may require a security deposit to establish service for a new account but this may vary depending on the company.