What Happens If I Don’T Pay My Sewer Bill? Consequences and How to Avoid Them

Sometimes it’s very stressful to have a lot of bills that you can’t pay. We don’t all like paying bills, but not being able to pay for things like water, sewer, electricity, or gas can have serious legal and financial effects.

As the owner or occupant of a property, you are responsible for paying the sewer bill. This bill pays for the maintenance and operation of sewer lines and wastewater treatment facilities. It is typically charged as part of your regular water bill. If you don’t pay your sewer bill, here is what could happen:

Consequences of Not Paying Your Sewer Bill

Late Fees and Penalties

If you miss paying your sewer bill by the due date, the utility company will charge late fees. The amount varies by company but is usually 1-1.5% of the past due balance. Repeated late payments result in higher penalties.

Disconnection of Service

The sewer company can cut off your service if you don’t pay your bill for 60 to 90 days. This means discontinuing your water supply and sewer drainage service. Living without running water and working plumbing can be extremely difficult. It also poses health risks if you are unable to wash properly.

Impact on Credit Score

Utility companies do not directly report your payment history to credit bureaus. It will likely be sent to a debt collection agency, though, if your account is 120 days past due. The account will then show up on your credit report, which will hurt your credit score.

A collections account can lower your credit score by up to 110 points. It stays on your report for 7 years. Having bad credit makes it much harder to qualify for loans, credit cards, mortgages, rental housing, utilities, insurance policies, and even jobs.

Liens Against Your Property

If the sewer bill remains unpaid for several months, the utility company can file a lien against your property to recover the amount owed. This means you cannot sell or refinance the property until you settle the lien.

The lien accrues interest until you pay it off in full The property may even face foreclosure to pay off the lien

Lawsuits and Judgments

Besides placing a lien, the utility company can also sue you for the unpaid sewer bills. If they win the lawsuit, the court will enter a judgment against you. A judgment is a binding court order that you owe the money.

The utility company can then pursue aggressive collection methods like garnishing your wages or levying your bank account. Not only will you still have to pay the past due amount but you will also incur hefty legal fees and collection costs.

Higher Rates

Some utility companies charge higher rates to customers with a history of late or non-payments. Once you are tagged as a “high risk,” you could end up paying almost double the standard rates. This makes it even harder to afford your sewer bill going forward.

As you can see, not paying your sewer bill can snowball into an extremely messy and expensive situation. It is critical that you take steps to avoid having your service disconnected or your account sent to collections.

How to Avoid Disconnection of Sewer Service

If you are struggling to pay your sewer bill, here are some options to maintain service and avoid penalties:

Request an Extension

Call the utility company before the due date and ask for more time to pay your bill. Explain your financial hardship. They may allow you a grace period of 10-15 days without a late fee.

Ask About Payment Plans

See if the utility offers payment plans that spread out your balance over several months. This reduces the monthly amount to more affordable installments. Make sure you stick to the payment schedule.

Apply for Financial Assistance

There are government and nonprofit programs that provide financial assistance for utilities. Eligibility is based on your household income. Look into LIHEAP, State Emergency Utility Assistance, local social service agencies, Salvation Army, or United Way.

Budget Billing

With budget billing, you pay a fixed amount each month based on your average usage. This makes costs more consistent and predictable from month to month. Call your utility to enroll.

Negotiate the Amount Owed

If you genuinely cannot afford the billed charges, politely request that the utility company lower or adjust the amount. Provide documentation to show financial hardship.

Seek Community Resources

Churches, food banks, and other community organizations may have funds to help pay utility bills for households in need. Reach out to them for support.

Earn Bill Pay Credits

Some utility companies allow you to earn credits for bill payment by volunteering for local community service activities. This helps reduce what you owe.

Conserve Water

Reduce your water usage to lower your sewer charges. Take shorter showers, turn off taps, fix leaks, and wait for full loads for laundry and dishes. Install low-flow fixtures.

Sublet or Move

As a last resort, consider taking on a roommate to share utility costs. Or move to a smaller, more affordable unit. Transferring service to a tenant who can pay the bills is better than having service disconnected completely.

How to Start Paying Again After Disconnection

If your sewer service has already been shut off due to non-payment, here are the steps to get it restored:

Pay Off the Past Due Amount

Contact the utility company and find out the total amount owed. Scramble to get the full past due balance paid off as soon as possible. Savings, borrowing from friends/family, pawning assets, or extra work may help you pull together funds quickly.

Pay Reconnection Fee

There will likely be a reconnect or activation fee to start service again. This ranges from $10 – $150. Pay this fee along with clearing the outstanding bill.

Set Up Payment Plan

If unable to pay the full amount upfront, request a payment plan to pay over time. Make the initial down payment and continue to make installments until paid off. Automatic bank withdrawals help avoid missed payments.

Arrange Deposit

Utility companies often require a security deposit before restoring service to a disconnected account. The deposit amount depends on your outstanding balance. Make arrangements to provide the deposit.

Complete Application

You may have to complete a restoration of service application providing updated contact and billing information. Submit it with the payment and deposit to request reconnection.

Wait During Restoration Period

Once payment is received in full, the utility company will restore service after 1-3 business days. This period is needed to turn your account back on. Plan accordingly.

Monitor Service

After service is restored, monitor your usage to avoid running up high bills again. Install meters, check for leaks, and practice conservation habits to better control costs.

Long-Term Strategies to Afford Sewer Bills

Beyond immediate fixes, you need longer-term strategies to get your utility payments back on track and avoid future delinquency. Here are some ideas:

Increase Income

The most sustainable, long-lasting solution is to bring in more income, so you can comfortably afford monthly bills. Take on side jobs, find a higher paying main job, monetize skills/hobbies, or have working-age adults in your household pitch in.

Cut Discretionary Expenses

Carefully review non-essential spending to identify areas for cutbacks. Dine out less, eliminate subscriptions, forego vacations, reduce entertainment budgets. Shift this discretionary spending towards sewer bills.

Call Creditors for Reduced Payments

If you are overextended on other debts like credit cards or loans, call the companies to request lower, more affordable payment plans. Freeing up money to allocate towards utilities should take priority.

Pay Bills On Time

Get organized so you never miss a payment deadline. Sign up for reminders, automatic payments, calendar alerts. Pay as soon as the bill arrives to avoid late fees. This saves money.

Check for Discounts and Assistance

Ongoing utility financial assistance may be available for seniors, people with disabilities, or low-income households. Check if any discounts – like multi-family or paperless billing – apply to you.

Share Resources

Trade skills or items with neighbors, family, and friends so nobody has to pay for everything themselves. Barter services like pet sitting, tutoring, rides or borrow tools infrequently used rather than everyone buying their own.

Move to Cheaper Housing

If utility costs are high because your living space is large or outdated, downsize to a smaller, more energy and water efficient apartment. You’ll spend less on recurring bills.

Conserve, Conserve, Conserve

Make water conservation an entire household effort. Limit use, reuse water when possible, install efficient fixtures and appliances, fix leaks quickly, run full loads in washing machines/dishes.

When to Consider Professional Help

Despite your best efforts, if you continue falling behind on utility bills or have trouble keeping current on other obligations, it may be time to seek professional help:

  • Credit Counselor – Meet with an accredited nonprofit credit counseling agency for advice on bill prioritization, budgeting

What Happens If I Don’T Pay My Sewer Bill

If I don’t pay my sewer bill, what will happen?

If you do not pay your bill and you do not make arrangements for a payment plan, the sewer district will ask the water district to shut your water off. If the water is shut off, there will be a disconnect fee and reconnect fee added to your account, in addition to the full amount of the past due bill.By

What Happens if You Don’t Pay Your Water Bill? (Don’t Panic!)

What happens if I don’t pay my sewer bill?

If you do not pay your bill and you do not make arrangements for a payment plan, the sewer district will ask the water district to shut your water off. If the water is shut off, there will be a disconnect fee and reconnect fee added to your account, in addition to the full amount of the past due bill.

What if I don’t pay my utility bill?

Don’t ignore warnings to pay your bill from the utility company because you’ll lose service and may have to pay a reconnection fee. If you’re having trouble paying your utility bills, alert your utility company right away; it may be able to help you. Electric and natural gas prices have been rising more than core inflation.

What happens if I miss a utility bill?

Your utility bills are the payments you make for essential services like electricity, water, and gas. If you miss your utility payments, you’ll typically be hit with a late fee that will appear on your next statement. However, if you don’t make payments over an extended period, you risk disconnection and having your account sent to collections.

Are sewer charges included in my monthly water bill?

Depending on where you live, sewer charges may be included in your monthly water bill. You can usually see a breakdown of charges in the billing detail or summary of charges on the bill. Some utility companies measure the water entering the property and the wastewater leaving to the sewer system separately.

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