What can I do regarding public fines after bankruptcy? 13 Answers as of May 17, 2011

I filed bankruptcy with a statement of intent to abandon my home. The final decree was issued more than a year ago. My municipal sewer utility and my county water agency both have 'no-termination' policies and base their billing on the name on the deed at the county recorders office. The bills keep coming to my P.O. Box and I can't make them understand that I don't own the property. Further, the house was red tagged by the code compliance office and they issued a fine and levied administrative fees totalling $2,600. Since the bank has not foreclosed or taken any other action, my name remains on the deed so they sent the bill to me. I was not in arrears with the utilities when I filed bankruptcy on the utility bills so they are not among the listed creditors and are unaffected by the automatic stay. How can I convince these people that it is not my house?

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Dearbonn Law Offices
Dearbonn Law Offices | Ajibola Oluyemisi Oladapo
You must pay public fines, you cannot discharge them.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 5/17/2011
Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
You will need to get your name off of the property as soon as possible. This could include using a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure to transfer the title. Unfortunately, since this was not done, you may have problems moving forward without paying these invoices.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 5/17/2011
Law Offices of Michael J. Berger
Law Offices of Michael J. Berger | Michael J. Berger
I can't tell from your question if you in fact own the home. Filling in your Statement of Intention form in bankruptcy does not transfer title of the property to the bank. I recommend that you contact the utility providers and ask that they disconnect service. 11 U.S.C. Section 523 provides in pertinent part that fines to governmental agencies are not dischargeable (can not be wiped out).
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/17/2011
Law Office of Larry Webb
Law Office of Larry Webb | Larry Webb
It is your house. A statement of intent does not transfer the title on real property. It sounds like you are still the owner of record and post-bankruptcy charges are not dischargeable. There are many reasons banks don't rush into foreclosure, one reason is to avoid liability for what you have described.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/16/2011
Cohen & Kendziorra, P.A.
Cohen & Kendziorra, P.A. | Robert S. Cohen
It is still your house and remains title in your name until the bank forecloses on the property and title transfers at a foreclosure sale. I would contact a realtor and try to short sell the property if the bank agrees so you can remove your name from the title.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 5/13/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    Fines and civil penalties are not discharged in bankruptcy. For instance, when a governmental agency issues a fine for property that you intend to surrender, the fine is owed if incurred before foreclosure.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin
    The Law Offices of Alan M. Laskin | Jared B. Gaynor
    Here's the problem - until your name is off of that title, it IS your house. And as such, you are responsible for those post-petition debts. Try calling the lender and doing a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure, or a short sale. Anything to get that property out of your name.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Jackson White, PC
    Jackson White, PC | Spencer Hale
    Unfortunately, if the bank has not foreclosed on the house, you still own the home. This makes you responsible for the bills that come due associated with the ownership of the home.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    If the foreclosure hasn't yet happened, then the house is still legally yours until deeded to the bank via the foreclosure and you are responsible for all utilities and code violations post-discharge to the date that the foreclosure if finalized - it does not matter that you surrendered the house in bankruptcy or that you no longer live in it.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed | Robert Weed
    It is your house. This problem now comes up all the time. Until the mortgage company actually forecloses, you still own the house. Bankruptcy gets you out of the debt, but it doesn't get you out of that problem. We now know that people should NOT move out of the house before (or after) the bankruptcy until you know the house is foreclosed and you don't own it any more. If you do move out rent it. Get enough money to cover these problems.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 5/13/2011
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
    The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
    But it IS your house until the bank forecloses or you sell it. And unfortunately, you are responsible for any fees that arose or were incurred after your bankruptcy case was filed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/12/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    No matter what you declared to be your intent in the bankruptcy petition, it is still your house and you do owe the bills for services after your filed bankruptcy. Once the bank forecloses they will probably pay everything owed so that they can sell the house free and clear of liens so eventually the bank may pay your bills. In the meantime, those bills are yours and you also need to keep the property insured and secured because you could be held liable for injuries and damages. You can't file for bankruptcy for 8 years so be careful.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/12/2011
    The Orantes Law Firm
    The Orantes Law Firm | Giovanni Orantes
    That is a problem plaguing many people who filed for bankruptcy protection. It is somewhat unanticipated that the banks would not foreclose right away, but banks are very shrewd - though some are not, such as Deutsche Bank who is the subject of a lawsuit as a slum-lord because it foreclosed on many properties, which are now in disrepair, etc. Many bankruptcy attorneys are trying to find a good solution to your problem. One solution being explored is to quitclaim the property to the bank, which would remove you from title. You also could transfer title to another entity. While either or both of these solutions may solve your problem, please note that neither of these two solutions has been thoroughly vetted and no attorney-client relationship is intended or formed by this communication.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 5/12/2011
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney