By 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.

Comments (9)
  1. Deanna says:

    I thought that in the case where utilities were owed for a foreclosed home, the fees had to be paid by the buyer during escrow. So if the city and or county were paid by the new owner and the old owner, is that not double dipping?

    1. Jeff Wilson says:

      That would be more inline if this was a normal home transaction. But since you are dealing with a foreclosure a lot of the normal guidelines and disclosure go out the window!
      This reminding me of idiots who have their house burn down but don’t have the services stopped while lot sits empty!

  2. nothingchanges says:

    When I was exploring buying a foreclosed home in California what I ran into was ex owners who ripped the place apart before they left.

  3. James says:

    “…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.” C’MON! SHE DID! and she was told WE DON’T CARE!, WE GO BY THE BANK DATE! ……so your advice is USELESS at most. The county and city are BIG RIP-OFFS when it comes to having them shut off services….they just WON’T!

  4. kurtisming says:

    James, our advice is to turn off all service when you move out. Unfortunately, she did not assuming she was no longer liable after moving out. As we learned investigating this story, that is not true and providing the proof you moved out months later does not release you from owing.

  5. ThomCatcruiser says:

    What you all missed was the bank took 4 months to record the sell !! Is this a timely manner? Kicked her to the curb maybe 1 month, record sell 4, banks Gotta Love’um. Bank should Pay! not be let off for being lazy.

  6. Bagbalm says:

    Do they not see this hard attitude will backfire? What will they do when people burn the place down when they leave because they heard you can be charged and can’t do anything about it?

  7. Virgil Antonucci says:

    Yes, it is new and yes his Hair is shorter.

  8. Mona says:

    Our home was in a forclosing state for 2 years.. We tried to turn off the utilities and they would not do it. They said that as long as our name was on the property we had to pay it. In the mean time the realtors would turn the water on and we would be charged. By the time we finally got off the title our bill was over $4400.00. We live in Elk Grove, Ca and they will not turn off your sewege.

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