Any owner of an apartment or private house is familiar with such a concept as utility payments. These "letters of happiness" waiting for the owner in the mailbox in the first days of each month. If you pay on time, then there will be no problems. But there are unpleasant cases in the form of delays in payments, penalties and dissatisfaction of management companies. What awaits the defaulter in this case? Is there a statute of limitations for housing and utility debt?
Housing and communal services
Housing and communal services are an uninterrupted supply to the apartments and houses of the resources necessary for a normal, comfortable life of a person. These include:
- hot and cold water;
- maintenance of local area;
- maintenance and repair of housing;
- garbage removal.
All the responsible organizations spend a lot of money on this, which then, according to the law, the apartment owners return. The money is paid under an agreement that is concluded between the owner of the property and the management company or the company providing the services. In the latter case, the accounts come in different quintances, and in the first case – in one.
Now the Real Estate Owners Association (TSN or Homeowners Association) as organizations are becoming increasingly popular. In this situation, tenants say significant benefits when paying for services.
Be that as it may, in any case, the obligation to pay utilities under the contract is governed by article 153 of the Housing Code of the Russian Federation.
The origin of the debt
In the family budget, the item of expenditure on housing and communal services is at least a quarter of all monthly expenses included in the mandatory list. But not all citizens of Russia consciously pay their bills. Every year public utilities suffer losses totaling more than 200 billion rubles. As the Russians explain, the debt of housing and communal services arises for them for the following reasons:
- job loss;
- temporary material difficulties;
- loss of receipt;
- elementary forgetfulness;
- conscious reluctance to pay, as they are dissatisfied with the quality of the services provided or do not agree with the total amount.
However, all these arguments do not completely relieve the owners from paying, but, on the contrary, aggravate the situation. Municipal services at first politely remind of debts. If their requests are ignored, public utilities move to more radical measures:
- Send a pre-trial claim.
- They sue the debtor and win. In this case, the debtor pays the amount determined by the court independently or through the bailiff service.
Responsibility of the owner of housing for non-payment of utility bills
There may be several cases of punishment of the debtor:
- If housing is not privatized and is municipal property, then if you do not pay the debt for three months, you have the right to turn off the gas, turn off the hot water, stop the electricity supply. If the debt is not repaid and after six months, residents on all grounds can be evicted to more modest housing that meets all standards of living.
- If the apartment or house is owned, eviction is impossible. Utilities can only suspend the flow of certain resources.
- If the apartment is leased, the responsibility for paying utility bills lies with the owner of the apartment, and he, in turn, may recover the debt from the tenant through the court as a private person.
In most cases, management companies and public utilities file a lawsuit against debtors, keeping silent about the fact that there is a statute of limitations on housing and public utilities debts.
What is the statute of limitations for housing and utility debt? The limitation period is a period during which the claimant may apply to the court for the restoration and protection of violated rights and obligations. This process is regulated by the Civil Code, namely article number 196. According to this article, the limitation period for housing and public utilities debts is three years. That is, after the lapse of this time, the claimant loses the guarantee of protection of his rights, and the defendant (debtor), on the contrary, acquires the right not to pay long-standing bills on legitimate grounds.
After what time the debtor is sued
There is no special law and clearly established deadlines for filing a debtor with a court. The management company (MC) or HOA (TSN) act at their discretion. In principle, they can file a claim in the second month after the formation of the debt. But such cases are rare. Some organizations nevertheless carry a lawsuit to the court when the statute of limitations on the debts of housing and public utilities has long expired, hoping for the legal illiteracy of the debtor.
Possible actions of the Criminal Code and the HOA (TSN) in the formation of debt
There is no obligatory pre-trial debt settlement. And in practice, the Criminal Code and the HOA do not rush to appeals to the court. They are trying by all means to reach an agreement with the debtor, establish new terms of payments, provide installments, and so on. Such actions are taken because the court, ascertaining all the circumstances of the case, is likely to ask whether the information about the amount of the debt, terms and methods of payment was provided to citizens.
Deadline for filing a lawsuit against the utility debtor
Municipal organizations, having warned the owner about the arrears, can at any time file a lawsuit and, at their discretion, indicate the period for which the debt is collected. It can be ten, fifteen years, and half a year. But if the defendant filed a petition for the expiration of the statute of limitations for the housing and utilities infrastructure under the law (Article 196 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation), the court will oblige the debtor to pay the funds as much as possible for the last three years.
In what cases are the statute of limitations for collection of debts on housing and public utilities
Article 196 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation is applicable in all cases that relate to debts for utility payments:
- state and privatized housing;
- the debt period can be any, but not less than three years from the moment of the last payment;
- the penalty may be directed to all adult citizens registered in the premises: in this case, all defendants must file applications for expiration of the statute of limitations for housing and utility bills.
Terms of expiration of the statute of limitations for housing and utility debt
The law on the expiration of the statute of limitations, of course, applies. But there are some nuances. If they are not taken into account, the court will not accept the petition of the missed claim period. In order not to fall for this bait, the owner does not need:
- make any payment for old payments that are already three or more years old;
- sign papers that give representatives of the management company;
- agree with the claim and the existing debt.
The procedure for consideration by the court of a claim for municipal debt
Sooner or later, if the debt on utility bills grows, the organization will file a lawsuit with the court. The judge may consider it in any of two ways:
- Court order. Order production is devoted to an entire chapter 11 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation. If the amount of the claim is less than 500 thousand rubles, the case can be considered without involving the parties. But for this, the outstanding obligations of the debtor must be explicit, the evidence is solid, a detailed calculation. Such a court order is easily canceled within ten days. If no action was taken, it takes effect on the eleventh day. If the defendant files a motion to cancel the court order, the case is referred to the district or regional court for consideration at the court hearing.
- The decision in the trial. This process takes place with a call from the parties, consideration of all documents, that is, there is a hearing of the case. The claim in this case is filed at the place of residence of the debtor. It is here that the defendant can file a request for expiration of the statute of limitations, if this is true. The court decision comes into force one month after its adoption. As long as it has not entered into force, an appeal may be filed.
The important point is not to miss the deadlines for the cancellation of the order, the filing of petitions and appeals.
How to write off debt by statute of limitations
With proper use of the law, you can easily write off debts of housing and communal services by statute of limitations. Full write-off is possible if the organization collects from the debtor through the court only the old debts. If one claim also includes debts that have not turned three years old, the court will be obliged to pay their full amount.
How to write and file a petition for the application of the limitation period in 2017
If the statute of limitation for housing and public utilities debts in 2017 has expired, it means that the last payment on receipts was made no later than 2014. Under such circumstances, the statute of limitation stands on the side of the debtor. So, the algorithm of the respondent’s actions should be as follows:
- If received a court order. A court order is issued by a judge, often world, in absentia, without the presence of the parties and third parties, when all the facts and evidence is available, the debt is confirmed. First, it is necessary to cancel a court order within a ten-day period after its issuance. Make it easy. In this case, the case will most likely be referred to the district court. After the judge has accepted the claim for consideration and appointment of the date of the meeting, the defendant submits a petition for the application of the limitation period. If the application is accepted, the case is terminated.
- If a court decision has already been taken to recover the municipal debt from the defendant, it will be much more difficult here. The claim is not easy to challenge. For this, there must be good reasons and grounds. When the fact of the debt confirms, but the defendant has not submitted the petition, the entire amount and the penalty will be recovered.
To avoid any force majeure, and the chance to apply the statute of limitations did not slip away at the last moment, you should always look in the mailbox for receipt of judicial notice. Such letters are waiting only for seven days, then they are sent back, and no one will no longer report both the date of the court hearing and the issuance of a court order. Deadlines will be missed, write off the debt in part or in full will not succeed.
How to apply for a statute of limitations
The petition is filed in the same court where the case is considered. It can be announced orally right at the court hearing on the case, it will be recorded in the protocol, and the court will take into account and consider, and then decide on whether to accept or refuse.
A written request can also be handed over to the court in the courtroom, or you can hand it over to the office (court receptionist) or to the assistant judge who has the case.
The petition is written on a tetrad sheet or A4 sheet in a free form, since there is no special approved sample of this document:
- In the header of the application indicate the name of the court, the case number, the judge who is considering the lawsuit, the name of the person filing the application, and the status (the defendant or the plaintiff).
- Then they write the word right in the middle. "Statement" with a capital letter and put an end.
- Further, they outline the essence of the matter in approximately the following form: "when considering the case (no., indicate the defendant, the subject of the claim), please apply the limitation period on the basis of article 199 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation".
- Below you must put your signature and date.
This article will help all those who are in a difficult life situation, with overdue payments of utility bills, and, perhaps, is already at the trial stage. It is important not to miss the deadlines for filing petitions, canceling orders and filing appeals. It is beneficial for municipal organizations if the respondent is not legally savvy or is simply indifferent to the judicial process.
It should be remembered that in the trial there is nothing terrible, it should not be afraid. This is an ordinary dispute between two persons, in which you need to defend and prove your point of view, as well as use laws that, in a particular case, will help win the case.