FundRobot » Child Investment Accounts » Overdue electricity bill on house lost to foreclosure?

Old   #1 (permalink)
Posts: 2,553
Default overdue electricity bill on house lost to foreclosure

I would be very appreciative of any advice on the following problem. Sorry about the lengthy explanation.

I am hoping someone can help me to understand the options available to someone in the following circumstances.

A friend of mine is in trouble with the electricity account at the home he rents.
He had a divorce a year or so ago and the overdue electricity bill from the previous house he had with his ex-wife was over $4000. He and his ex lost the house to foreclosure and since that time the electricity on *that* defunct account (attached to his name) has gone unpaid.

After the divorce, he’s been renting a house with another person who agreed to put the electricity in their name, but that roommate recently moved out and the DTE electricity account has to be put into someone else’s name ... the problem is; DTE will not put the account in my friend’s name as long as the bill from his previous home remains outstanding.

My friend’s ex roommate has said he will allow the bill to stay in his name until the end of the month (January) but then he needs to close that account.

Apparently, my friend’s ex-wife is not liable for any of the bill as part of the divorce agreement ... I don’t understand the ins-and-outs, that’s just what he’s told me.

I think one of the biggest issues is that my friend (if I understand this correctly) will lose the chance to see his two children (ages 7 & 13) due to not being able to provide suitable quarters when the children visit. He and his ex-wife have a typical shared custody arrangement. Again, I’m not sure how this stuff works ... if someone also wants to give me a brief comment on the issue of basically being homeless when you have a custody arrangement, that is ok too ... but really I am specifically interested in the DTE account issue.

Friend of the court is taking money from his check for the kids and alimony ... and he is barely meeting his bills after that.

My friend has exhausted all the possibilities for borrowing money.
His employment, though full-time, doesn’t come anywhere close.
The possibility of doing an illegal hook-up of electricity is NOT something he is willing to consider.
His landlord has refused to put the electricity in his (the landlord’s) name. Furthermore, the landlord does not want a second renter there.
My friends ex-wife would rather see him dead. She would love him to be homeless.
Most charity (such as a church etc) could not tackle a $4000 bill ... charity is out.
Not sure what else there is.

Does the fact that the old house was lost to foreclosure provide any cover?
Is there any cover due to the fact that he has partial custody of two young kids who will not be able to come over without electricity?

Any other input on getting around the impact of the old, outstanding $4000 DTE bill and it’s affect on getting his new (rented) house electricity account in his name would be very much appreciated.
**Is there some technicality that he (and I) are missing??**

Thanks in advance.
Just to be clear ... I am neither the person who has the problem DTE account NOR am I the renter who moved out. This really is for another person I know.
Edit ...
Some great comments!

@howard ... I’m not sure why the bill was not divided as part of the divorce. I do know his wife was expected to barely scrape by and so the court may have decided to saddle it with the breadwinner.

How did he get a $4000 bill? ... Electric Baseboard heat + 2700 sq foot house + uncooperative wife who wanted the wintertime heat up high constantly regardless of the cost.

From what I understand, DTE has been less than willing to make any sort of affordable payment arrangement on the outstanding bill. I’m not sure what my friend has offered ... but I do know that in between his child support, alimony, and some unfortunate tax debts leftover from the marriage/divorce (read: “garnishee”) his remaining income and affordability range has been somewhere between a refrigerator box and a garden shed.

@ steve ... thanks for the input ... yeah, I suspected the courts would not allow him further custody without the appropriate dwelling.
He is looking at pi
He is looking at picking up shifts elsewhere ... he was a waiter 15 years ago and is hoping to do that in any “spare” time.

@ claudia ... thanks for the link to Modest Needs ... I’m going to forward that to him.

As far as simpson’s comment regarding my friend not having removed the electric account from his name prior to vacating the property ... you are mistaken simpson ... the account was removed from his name when the bank took the house ... the debt had been accrued while he was still living there. And as far as your comment “None of the circumstances you pose as mitigating factors matter.” The circumstances I posed DO “matter” (as you put it) ... they matter to my friend. As far as whether any of those circumstances could technically contribute to a way out of his mess is a separate issue.
GoldAddicted is offline   Reply With Quote
Old   #2 (permalink)
Posts: 2,621
Default overdue electricity bill on house lost to foreclosure

He has 3 options. Pay the bill, declare bankruptcy, negotiate a settlement with DTE.

Why wasn't the bill divided as part of the divorce settlement? Power usually gets turned off when someone is a couple of months behind. How did the bill get to $4,000?
Money07 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old   #3 (permalink)
Posts: 2,600
Default overdue electricity bill on house lost to foreclosure

There are few if any outlets for him. The electric bill was accrued prior to losing the home, so no, it does not go away with the foreclosure. The electric company is not going to forgive the bill and then miraculously allow him to wrack up another - he is stuck either paying the bill or going without electricity. Even with court ordered joint custody, with no electricity, the house becomes inhabitable and no court is going to allow him to have his kids in an uninhabitable dwelling. It is not up to DTE to provide a habitable dwelling for him and his kids, it is his responsibility to ensure by whatever means possible that he provide a habitable dwelling.

The only way out for now is not going to be pretty - possibly a second job working as many hours as he can would get the bill paid down, coupled with reaching out to a large charity (or two or three) to help with a promise of paying back using funds from the second job.
Cash754 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old   #4 (permalink)
Posts: 2,621
Default overdue electricity bill on house lost to foreclosure

The technicality that you guys are missing is that as long as he had the electricity in his name, he is responsible for it. He needed to close the account the second he moved out of the property. This is on him.

He needs to contact the electric company and see if they can work out a payment plan or some sort of settlement or he needs to find a way to come up with the money.

None of the circumstances you pose as mitigating factors matter.

Edit: So, he and his wife allowed the heating bill to get run up while he lived there and he walked out on the bill? He thinks it's ok to use a product and not pay for it?

And no, none of the things you listed matter to the electric company. They turn the power off daily on families and old people.
Money07 is offline   Reply With Quote


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