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Am I responsible for previous home owners water bill?

Beaumont, CA |
Filed under: Bankruptcy Lien

I received a notice today that the water district is adding 151 . 00 to my bill for a previous bill that was not collected . I have no idea whose bill it is . The water was put in my name when the house closed escrow . I have paid all of my bills but why should I have to pay someone else bill ? They state they are within their right to come after me for the bill .

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Attorney answers 3


Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as your legal advice.

The answer depends on whether you took the property subject to a lien for unpaid balances. You should immediately consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.


This bill should have been handled through the escrow process, such that the escrow would allocate to the prior owner all outstanding taxes, liens, and other charges of the property. Perhaps you should contact your real estate agent and/or the escrow company to see if they know if someone else should pay it. In theory, perhaps you can file a claim with the escrow company or the title insurance. If they do not pay, perhaps you can sue the responsible party in small claims court, if you are so inclined.

Robert Stempler (please see DISCLAIMER below)
Twitter: @RStempler

NOTICE: The above statements are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended as legal advice or advice of any sort for a specific case or legal matter. If you do not have a signed attorney-client fee agreement with the Consumer Law Office of Robert Stempler, APC ("the Firm"), then until such written fee agreement is provided and signed by both a prospective client and attorney for a particular case, neither Mr. Stempler nor the Firm will represent you nor will they be your attorney in any matter and you remain responsible for retaining your own attorney and for compliance with any and all deadlines and for any statutes of limitations that may pertain to potential claims. Comments made on a public forum, such as, to not have any confidentiality because others may read them. If you desire a private consultation with Mr. Stempler that is confidential, please go to and submit a free eCase Review. The result portrayed for a client was dependent on the facts of that case. Results will differ if based on different facts. The Firm and Mr. Stempler are a debt relief agency. The Firm and Mr. Stempler help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.


Generally, unless a lien against the house was filed, the water company cannot pursue you for services you did not use.

Sometimes local water districts are not well advised, so be nice when you discuss it with them. You may have to work up the ladder a few layers because the person answering the phone likely knows little more than what he/she was told by their boss. Bring your escrow papers and deed to show you just took title and, if you have a water bill from your old residence, bring that as well to show you lived somewhere else and paid it in full. No guarantees, but it might help.

You should immediately contact the escrow office and your real estate agent as well because the purchase agreement probably contains a provision for division of costs, which will place liability on the seller.

In the very last resort, a small claims action might be needed to clear this up.

Good luck.

If you need further clarity, please email me at MICHAEL@MIRELAND.US Answers to questions are for general information purposes only and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. This is not legal advice, simply information. You SHOULD NOT act on this information without consulting a competent bankruptcy attorney in your area and providing ALL relevant information.

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