What recourse do I have after bankruptcy on property damages? 11 Answers as of August 26, 2011I filed chapter 7 bankruptcy 3/09 and it was discharged 7/09. In the bankruptcy I listed several properties I was surrendering. Just recently I requested my credit report to review. In that report I noticed the city of those properties sent me to collections several months after the discharge for unkept lawn and weeds. I no longer owned the property, what recourse do I now have to clear this up? Any? Thank you for your time.
Joseph Lehn, Esq | Lehn Law, PA
The fact that you surrendered the properties in the bankruptcy releases you from any legal obligation to pay. However, it does not transfer ownership of the properties. Therefore, you may wish to check if the mortgage companies have filed a foreclosure or if they will agree to a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure to transfer ownership from you to the bank.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Breckenridge and Walton | Alan D. Walton
That you wanted to surrender the properties is meaningless until the lender accepts them. You are still the owner absent a deed to the lender or a proper foreclosure procedure. If you are the record title holder, the city can look to you for payment of code violations.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Dan Wilson Bankruptcy | Dan Wilson
Had the properties actually been foreclosed on when the citations were issued? If not, property was still yours and citations are post-petition debt, unaffected by the discharge in your case. This is a big problem everywhere as banks drag their heels in foreclosing. I know of no good solution, except tell my clients to stay in the house, pay HOA dues if applicable, and wait for the foreclosure.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Law Office of John C. Farrell, Jr. | John C. Farrell, Jr.
If you no longer lived at the property and relinquished all ownership to it then you should have no problem disputing the issue with the city. There should be an appeals or abatement process. You should get all supporting documentation and perhaps an affidavit or 2 to support your position. I would then begin the process with the tax & collectors department for the city alleging you owe them money.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
Actually, you may still own the property even after bankruptcy if you have not had the property foreclosed or did a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Just because you "surrender" in bankruptcy, it doesn't automatically remove your name from the title of the property. You will be responsible for debts that occur after you file bankruptcy if your name is still on the deed.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
Just because you discharged the note in your bankruptcy does not mean the mortgage companies took possession over the properties, you are still liable for the upkeep etc. Sad situation, but you can't force the mortgage company to "take" the property. This is happening frequently in my area and unfortunately none of us attorneys have figured out how to get around it. Sorry, wish I had a better answer.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
One of the problems with surrendering real property in a bankruptcy is that people think that once you file you no longer own the property. This is not true. You own the property until it is foreclosed and actually goes back to the bank. When the property falls into disrepair the city is forced to abate it as a nuisance. The city sometimes has to board up windows to keep homeless people out etc. They also write citations etc for overgrown grass, dead grass etc. These are all charged to the owner of record on the property which is you until you aren't the owner. These types of citations are similar to traffice citations and are usually not dischargeable in bk. I always advise my clients about this and tell them they must continue to maintain the home until the bank takes it back. I have been sucessful on some ocassions in getting the city to put a lien on the property for the bank or new owner to pay. You can try this but if they say no you could be responsible.
Answer Applies to: California
Guerrieri & Cox | Michael A. Cox
If you no longer owned the property at the time the city assessed charges for the unkept lawn and weeds, then you should dispute the debt as not being liable for it. That very well may require you to seek relief from a judgment. Ordinarily, the prosecutor seeks judgments for health code violations against the owner of record, which means the prosecutor looks into the deed records to see who owns the property and then seeks to serve the owner. If it turns out you were the owner at the time, I am afraid you may have little recourse other than to arrange a payment plan. It is an obligation of attorneys to notify their clients of the consequences of surrendering property and to advise regarding the continuing premise liability, especially for health and safety code violations. It is particular area of difficulty with bankruptcies because we cannot force mortgage companies to follow through with a surrender of the property by taking title through a foreclosure, short sale, or deed in lieu of foreclosure. Meanwhile, those who are least able have to try and keep up the properties and remain liable to do so.
Answer Applies to: Ohio