If I file for bankruptcy, can I get my gas service reconnected?

Question:

The gas company cut off my service because I didn’t pay my bill. If I file for bankruptcy, can I get gas service back?

 

Answer:

If you file for bankruptcy after your gas or other utility service is disconnected for nonpayment of utility bills, you can probably get your service reconnected.

Bankruptcy law prohibits utility companies from refusing service solely based on the unpaid debt that will be discharged in bankruptcy. Nor can a utility discriminate against a customer because of a bankruptcy filing.

Can the utility require a new deposit? The utility cannot require a bankruptcy debtor to post a new deposit in order to reconnect service unless the utility would have required such a deposit from a customer whose service was cut-off and then paid the arrears in full. To act otherwise would amount to discrimination against the customer solely on the basis of the bankruptcy. Most utilities don’t require deposits from customers who pay back bills; in fact, many will reconnect service (without further deposit) if a customer pays only a portion of the bill. So in most cases, you should not have to post another deposit. If the utility balks, talk to a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Can the utility require a reconnection fee? If a utility company charges reconnection fees to all customers (most do), then it could charge such a fee to a bankruptcy debtor seeking reinstatement of utility service.

To learn more about Chapter 7 and utility disconnections, see Using Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Prevent a Utility Shut-Off. To learn about ways to prevent utility shut-off in the first place, see Preventing a Utility Shut-Off.

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