Outstanding sewer bill. Seller won't reply and attorney does not care.

Asked by Keval, Dix Hills, NY Fri Apr 20, 2012

I moved into a new home and my lawyer failed to ensure that the seller paid their sewer dues. The seller has moved out of country. What are my options? Can I claim the dues through title insurance since the sewer charges are on the property. I am in Melville, NY

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Gail Gladsto…, Agent, 11743, NY
Fri Apr 20, 2012
It seems as though you are not excited about getting an answer from your attorney, so I will refer you to Darren Sheehan. You can call him with your question and I know he will be happy to advise.

Darren can be reached at (516) 860-8906.

Gail@GladstoneGroupRealty.com 631-425-6150
0 votes
thanks Gail, I left Darren a vmail. Will see what he has to say.
Flag Fri Apr 20, 2012
Keval, Home Buyer, Dix Hills, NY
Fri Apr 20, 2012
for the benefit of others:
1. I found out the title insurance will not cover it (lesson learned: read it at closing)
2. My atty defended himself by stating that outside of the NY 5 boroughs sewer is a private company and there was no way to find out (a simple call to the sewer company would have been enough, lesson learned: call all utilities that you can think of to make sure previous owner has settled and ideally have a escrow account for $1k for any potential outstanding bills)
3. Finally, i was able to fight with my atty and make him feel guilty to split the bill into half (my sellers did not respond and they are out of the country)

Hope this helps to others. And thank you to all who responded and helped me out with their free suggestions. Trulia has a nice community to share issues like this for regular consumers with experts being active and providing tips.
1 vote
Anna M Brocco, Agent, Williston Park, NY
Fri Apr 20, 2012
If your attorney is not being helpful, consider consulting with another, especialy if the bill is high; have all related documentation reviewed and go from there...
1 vote
It's unfortunate that your attorney isn't pressing the issue with the seller's attorney, therefore do begin with the title company, and see where that leads.
Flag Fri Apr 20, 2012
The amount is around $300 but my lawyer said that there is not much you can do besides keep bugging the sellers attorney. The sellers have moved out of the country so my chances are very low for any response. I was hoping I could put a claim against the title insurance or my attorney himself who failed to do his basic job. But needed some advice on what is my best option.
Flag Fri Apr 20, 2012
Will Roan, Agent, Henderson, NV
Wed Jan 16, 2013
Hi you dont need to pay another attorney for any advise the sew bill is attached to the property not the person. So with that in mind the lien is against the property, call your title insurance company and explain this that is why buyers get title insurance. This should be convered. It's a phone call.
and worst case scenario pay the bill otherwise the late fees pile up and up.

As a nationally licensed realtor I have experienced this in the past in the state of nevada
working with title companies and yes sometimes they drop the ball when they request demands from the towns they either slip through the cracks and close escrow, there should been monies escrowed for the sewer demand. I am so sorry that you have this problem

Please feel free to give me a call
and call your title company

Will Roan Lrsp, Realtor
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc
255 Executive Dr. Ste 104
Plainview, NY 11803
Servicing Long Island
631 805 9045
0 votes
Hector Gavil…, Agent, Commack, NY
Thu Jun 14, 2012
You didn't mentioned how much the previous homeowner owed? There is an FAQ page for Suffolk County Sewers. http://www.suffolkcountyny.gov/Departments/PublicWorks/FAQ.aspx#Q9 .

As a Realtor we need to be careful about giving any legal advice. however, I believe the attorney was wrong in not finding out what arrears existed. You could probably sue the previous homeowners.

I just sold another home in Melville, and I gave the new buyers all the information including the sewers, and LIPA and Keyspan. I told them they should contact these companies before they move in. I'm surprised no one told you to do the same.

Sorry to hear about your experience, but we all can learn from these things so it never happens again.
0 votes
Steve Quinta…, Agent, Albuquerque, NM
Fri Apr 20, 2012
Your idea of going through the title company is a good place to start. You should get a good explanation of exactly what happened leading to the outstanding debt. If your concern is not resolved with the title company you will at least be prepared to have a good discussion with the lawyers or the brokers.
0 votes
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