In Bankruptcy Information, Bankruptcy Questions

vacant-houseYou filed bankruptcy. You got a discharge. You didn’t reaffirm the house expecting the bank to take it back through foreclosure, but they haven’t done anything. Now what?

You are liable for injuries on the premises

Just because you filed bankruptcy doesn’t mean you no longer own the house. If it’s still titled in your name you’re still the owner and you still have all the liability that goes along with owning property. If someone slips on the ice on the sidewalk you could be liable. If someone breaks in and is injured you could be liable. If the city decides you aren’t maintaining the premises properly you could be liable. You can’t just walk away.

Call the bank

This is sometimes easier said than done if you’re dealing with a nationwide lender with thousands or millions of mortgage loans. At the height of the economic recession in 2008-2011 banks had so many vacant properties on their books they literally didn’t know what they owned, who was in them or what to do with them all. Even though things are getting better your loan might be in a black hole somewhere. If you’ve gotten your bankruptcy they can’t try to collect from you so don’t hesitate to call and ask them what they’re going to do.

Make sure the property is secure

Maintain the property at least at a minimal level. Mow and water the lawn. Replace any broken windows or doors. You can turn off the utilities if you want but at least try to keep it up outside if for no other reason than you owe it to your former neighbors not to make it a hangout for vagrants or criminals.

Rent it

If you’ve tried to contact the bank and are getting nowhere, consider renting the house. It’s still yours until a foreclosure is complete. Under federal law if you have a lease with a tenant and the bank forecloses the tenant is protected until the end of the lease, although the bank will collect the rent after foreclosure. But in the meantime that could be some much-needed income in your pocket.

Deed it back to the bank

This is an option of last resort. If you have a real nuisance of a property, for example vandals are breaking in, the neighbors are complaining, maybe even the city or police are on your case about what’s going on in the house, you might want to consider deeding it to the bank to get it out of your name. Whether or not an involuntary deed such as that is effective is a tricky question so talk to your lawyer about this before taking this extreme step.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Free Consultation

Not readable? Change text.

Start typing and press Enter to search