This headline may sound crazy, but it’s true. The homeowner, a man named Dominick Vulpis, said that he knew he paid the sewer bill late, but said he always paid it. In this case though, he did not pay the $140 bill for four years, which ballooned to a $50,000 debt and a notice of foreclosure to collect on that outrageous bill—that is one stinkin’ sewer bill!
This all happened in the Township of Middletown, New Jersey, a population of just over 66,000 people. Here’s what happened: Middletown turned the $140 utility bill over to an investment company called Approved Realty Group, a company that buys up debts owed to cities and municipalities, and then attempts to collect on the debt. This is similar to how a debt collector collects on an unpaid credit card. In this case, the company, although regulated on the amount of interest and fees it can charge, racked up close to $50,000 in late fees and charges on Mr. Vulpis’ home.
It was in December of 2011 that Mr. Vulpis and his wife discovered that their home was being foreclosed on because of this ridiculously large debt. He said it was a mistake, that he had never been served with a notice about the ballooning debt until he received the foreclosure notice. Mr Vulpis did what any intelligent homeowner should do—he fought back.
Months later, Mr. Vulpis was able to reach a settlement with this company to pay $37,500 instead of the original $50,000 they wanted to foreclose on his home over. This is still an egregious amount of money for a little utility bill, but at least the foreclosure action was dismissed and Mr. Vulpis was able to save his home.
Let this be a lesson for all those out there with utility bills that are overdue—they can end up becoming more than just a pain in the butt debt—they can literally get you kicked out of your house.
For those facing similar situations, don’t freeze and let the bills add up, especially when something like this happens—contact an expert bankruptcy attorney that specializes in foreclosure defense and Chapter 13 bankruptcy where some of these utility bills can be erased completely or the debt collector can at the very least be forced to accept a much smaller amount of money without interest accruing. Don’t let a stinky sewer bill sink your home, always get help before it’s too late.