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Old 11-30-2015, 08:24 PM
Status: "one of the wettest from the standpoint of water" (set 29 days ago)
 
Location: Denver CO
18,939 posts, read 9,979,314 times
Reputation: 27700

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You screwed up and you have no basis for trying to bring the agent and attorney into the mess that you created. From what you are saying, it sounds like it was the buyer's attorney, which means they had absolutely no duty to you whatsoever, let alone to tell you something as common sense as canceling your utilities when you sold your house.

Yes, you can sue the buyer, and you will have a good chance you will win based on the fact that he benefited from the power during that time. But the agent and attorney did nothing wrong and derived no benefit from this whole mess and the idea that you would try to collect from them for your mistake is really pathetic.
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Old 11-30-2015, 08:54 PM
 
Location: Georgia
4,514 posts, read 3,761,813 times
Reputation: 15511
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
So, I need a theory for including the agent and closing attorney in a small claims suit to recover what I paid for this guy's electricity. The idea is to get one of them to bug this guy enough to get him to actually write a check and end this ridiculous saga.

So, aren't closing attorneys supposed to make some sort of provision to close out utility accounts like this? How does that work? And what about agents, shouldn't they at least remind their clients to put the utilities in their own names?
My question: Why were the utilities in your name, anyway? Wasn't the girlfriend renting the house? Why weren't the utilities in HER name to begin with?

Otherwise, you are SOL when it comes to including the agent and the closing attorney. Your responsibility to turn the electricity off. You didn't. They will completely ignore you, since it has nothing to do with their fiduciary responsiblity to YOU.

Don't know about other parts of the country, but around here, the closing attorney has nothing to do with utility transfers. We as agents remind our sellers to transfer the utilities, or close them entirely. We do that at the time the contract is signed, when due diligence is over, and five days prior to closing. And another reminder as they are moving out. Same with buyers -- we remind them several times to transfer the utilities to their name, BUT IT IS NOT OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO INSURE THAT THEY DO SO.

Just take them straight to small claims court, for the electric bills and court costs. Easy-peasy. Have a copy of your HUD to show when they took possession, and the bills from that date forward. The other stuff the new owner is throwing up is just a smoke screen -- they were really enjoying not having power bills for a while. You might be able to make a case for them witholding your mail if they weren't forwarding it -- and that could easily be a federal offense, interferring with the mail. :-)

In some areas, if you can prove that you had no ownership interest in the home, like a copy of the HUD, etc., you may be able to convince the utility company to go after the current residents. But t doesn't sound like that's going to happen, here.
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:20 PM
 
Location: In a vehicle.
4,535 posts, read 2,753,602 times
Reputation: 7277
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post

So, aren't closing attorneys supposed to make some sort of provision to close out utility accounts like this?
The OWNER is the first and LAST resort.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
How does that work?
You call them up and say "I sold the house, turn off the power"

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
And what about agents, shouldn't they at least remind their clients to put the utilities in their own names?
Shouldn't the clients be smart enough to do their own jobs? Like shutting off the power, the garbage, the mail, the paper delivery (Do they still do that?) The cable...Unless it's with comcast! Aiieee!
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Old 11-30-2015, 09:28 PM
 
6,157 posts, read 3,233,130 times
Reputation: 12488
Quote:
Originally Posted by vanyali View Post
I sold my house in March, paid what I thought was my last power bill, and moved away. Six months later I got a disconnect notice saying I owed several hundred dollars to them and they were going to send it to a collection agency. Looking into this, I found out that all the money was for new power usage at the old house I sold -- the new owner never opened an account with the power company so they just kept billing me (though I never saw a bill -- maybe a problem with the mail forwarding? I don't know).


The power company said I had to pay them and try to get my money back from the new owner. So I paid up, and told the new owner all about it, and the guy is being a real jerk (attacking me for not using a nice enough tone in my email, complaining that I wasn't nice enough to his girlfriend, my old tenant, because I wouldn't sell the house to her for way under market value, etc.). So collecting from this guy is going to be a real pain, even with a court judgment.

However, this guy and his girlfriend have a longstanding relationship with their real estate agent dating back at least 10 years. They both have rented and bought multiple properties through this guy, and I think they know each other fairly well. The realtor has a business relationship with the closing attorney who did the closing.

I think the realtor and closing attorney would be much easier to collect from, not because the new owner is broke, but because he is a real DC "DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!" type of guy (he knows Hillary Clinton, so he doesn't have to pay his own power bills, apparently).

So, I need a theory for including the agent and closing attorney in a small claims suit to recover what I paid for this guy's electricity. The idea is to get one of them to bug this guy enough to get him to actually write a check and end this ridiculous saga.

So, aren't closing attorneys supposed to make some sort of provision to close out utility accounts like this? How does that work? And what about agents, shouldn't they at least remind their clients to put the utilities in their own names?
My understanding is that the person moving away is supposed to notify the utility you are moving, house was sold, and to take it out of his name as of a certain date. Then give the utility co. his new address, for them to send the final bill. Unless you had an agreement with the realtor or attorney or the buyer for them to do it.

Having said that, that doesn't mean you are responsible for the new owner's bills. But I think you will have to sue the person who incurred the charges and obviously knew they weren't paying for their own bills and that it was still in your name. Which is theft. You will get a judgment, probably, against him.

Send him a certified letter, to start. Then file a claim in small claims court, which is inexpensive and straightforward. Get a judgment. Then you record the judgment in all counties in which he owns property (you file it with each county clerk). If I'm not mistaken, that will prevent the man from selling or buying anything with that judgment against him. You'll get your money, since he's a businessman.

The judgment should include your court costs, and interest from date of judgment until paid. You should check on this and make sure you ASK the court for that in your small claims filing.

Prediction: If he shows up in court, he'll show up with a story, like "He said he'd pay for the electricity for several months, as a gift, since he got a great price for the house" or "He said he'd pay for the electricity for six months, while I get on my feet." Don't worry about that. The judge won't buy that. It's a common ploy for trying to get out of paying a debt.

If you hire an attorney to guide you through the process, he'll tell you how to do all that. It's easy.

But no, I don't think the attorney or realtor are responsible, unless you had an agreement with them that they would take care of that.

Last edited by bpollen; 11-30-2015 at 09:38 PM..
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Old 11-30-2015, 10:32 PM
 
Location: la la land
26,943 posts, read 11,259,968 times
Reputation: 19192
When we bought our house last year (in California) the title company called each utility and calculated the amount due by the seller at closing. Assuming your title company did the same thing I would think that you have a slam dunk case in small claims court if you have that paperwork. Whether you turned off the utilities or not, the new owner had an obligation to transfer them into their name. By him not putting them in his name he basically committed theft, just as a person would be doing if they withdrew $40 from an ATM and got $400 instead, you can't just legally pocket the extra money, you owe it to the bank.
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Old 11-30-2015, 10:46 PM
 
Location: South
253 posts, read 174,023 times
Reputation: 685
I'm sort of curious about your other utilities. Did you call the water company, gas company, trash removal company and shut off these services/tell them you were no longer responsible? Or can you expect to receive collections bills for these also? What about cable and internet? How exactly did you forget to shut off your services with the electric company?

I'm also curious whether the new owner will try to argue that it was a handshake agreement that you'd continue to pay for X amount of time and the proof is in the fact that you didn't remove yourself from the utility. If I were a villain, that's how I'd play it.
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Old 11-30-2015, 10:57 PM
 
6,110 posts, read 3,302,330 times
Reputation: 12999
The OP is now throwing good money after bad by burning pixels complaining about a problem he created. Is this possibly one of those people who got a participation trophy and never learned to take responsibility for his own actions (or lack of actions)?
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Old 11-30-2015, 11:06 PM
 
Location: la la land
26,943 posts, read 11,259,968 times
Reputation: 19192
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyeBright View Post
I'm sort of curious about your other utilities. Did you call the water company, gas company, trash removal company and shut off these services/tell them you were no longer responsible? Or can you expect to receive collections bills for these also? What about cable and internet? How exactly did you forget to shut off your services with the electric company?

I'm also curious whether the new owner will try to argue that it was a handshake agreement that you'd continue to pay for X amount of time and the proof is in the fact that you didn't remove yourself from the utility. If I were a villain, that's how I'd play it.
I don't think the buyer would have much luck with that...any transactions having to do with the sale of the house would have been part of the escrow process. Even if you agree to sell your refrigerator to the buyer it's recorded by the title company.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:09 AM
 
8,687 posts, read 8,858,196 times
Reputation: 12134
When I sold my place 3 months ago, the first calls I made when I walked out of the closing was to the utility companies to have them close the electric and gas accounts in my name.

Pretty common sense really.
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Old 12-01-2015, 06:24 AM
 
10,248 posts, read 6,454,577 times
Reputation: 10821
Quote:
Originally Posted by BostonMike7 View Post
When I sold my place 3 months ago, the first calls I made when I walked out of the closing was to the utility companies to have them close the electric and gas accounts in my name.

Pretty common sense really.
And as a buyer one should also have the common sense to call and have it set up to be turned on at closing in your name.
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