Reporting Kurtis Ming
A Citrus Heights woman who lost her home to foreclosure found herself on the hook for utility bills racked up after she moved. When she couldn’t get anyone to listen, she called Kurtis.
She doesn’t live there anymore, so why is she getting the bills?
“It was like my whole life turned into a country western song where I lost my job, I lost my house, my dog died,” says Linda Stensler.
Unemployed for two years, Linda lost her home of 28 years to foreclosure.
“It was really… it kind of devastated me,” says Linda.
Records show her Citrus Heights home sold at auction on March 29, 2011.
But eight months later, Sacramento County claimed Linda owed $391.62 for sewer and storm water drainage. The majority of that bill was for service after her home was sold.
“That’s not fair. I had no possession of it,” says Linda.
The county told her the bank didn’t record the new owner until July, four months after her home sold at auction.
“It’s sold, I have paperwork, I have proof, it’s on the second page, they said we don’t care, it goes by the bank date,” says Linda.
She admits she didn’t shut off her sewer service, thinking it would automatically be assigned to the new owner.
“The last thing someone being foreclosed out of their house thinks about is the utility bills, I’m sure,” says James Falcone, a real estate attorney.
But without shutting off all your services, Falcone says you could be on the hook for bills even after you move out.
“Only the new owner can record the deed. The former homeowner can’t do it and can’t really record anything that shows they no longer own the property,” says Falcone.
Sacramento County tells CBS13 that Linda was still listed as the legal property owner “because the bank did not record the deed in a timely manner.”
Once we got involved, Sacramento County agreed to drop the charges accrued after the house sold.
“A weight lifted off my shoulders, definitely,” says Linda.
Before moving out, make sure you contact all your utility companies to shut off service. If a service, like garbage pickup or street cleaning, can’t be shut off, be sure to provide written proof you no longer own your home.
In this case, Sacramento County made an exception. Legally it only has to go by what’s recorded by the bank. So if you didn’t shut off your utilities, you’re still responsible even after your home was foreclosed.