How far back can a utility go to collect on a bill?

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How far back can a utility go to collect on a bill?

The water reclamation district just sent my tenant a water shut-off notice for non-payment of bills going back 5 years. I called the district. They said they sent bills via email which I never received. If they got no response from email are they not in some way obligated to contact me in some other way so that a bill does not accumulate for 5 years. It is $718.60 they want or they will shut off the water. As I did not pay them because I didn’t even know they existed for so many years does that not void an agreement of contract. Don’t they have some legal obligation to find me before so much time has passed and so much money accumulated. What can I do?

Asked on May 20, 2017 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If there was a written agreement for the water bills, they can wait up to 10 years to legally collect on a bill; if no written (only therefore oral) agreement, up to 5 years, which means they can attempt to collect on bills up to 5 years old. That is because the statute of limitations, or time  within which to take legal action to collect, in your state is 10 years for written agreements, 5 years for services or materials provided under an oral agreement. There is no obligation to try to collect earlier: they can wait for years, then legally try to collect, including by suing if you do not pay.


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