Surrendering your House through Bankruptcy

Falling behind on your mortgage can be extremely stressful, and at a certain point, many people decide that they no longer want to keep the house that they own.  When you file for bankruptcy, you have the option to surrender your house, which means that you are no longer responsible for the mortgage.    Usually, once you surrender the house, your mortgage company will move forward with foreclosure proceedings to take the house back so they are able to sell it to a new person.  However, sometimes the mortgage company does not move forward with foreclosure right away, and that is when debtors can get into trouble.

When you surrender your house through bankruptcy, you still are responsible for the house. This is because your name will still be on the deed of the house, even though you will not be responsible for the mortgage anymore.  What does this mean for homeowners?  It means that you will still need to maintain the upkeep of the house until the bank moves forward with foreclosure proceedings and sells the house to a new owner.  There are a few simple things that debtors who surrender their houses should do to prepare for this.

1. Make sure that you retain homeowner’s insurance on the house.  If something happens to the house itself, like a fire, or flooding, you can still be responsible for the damage that occurs.  Additionally, if someone hurts themselves on your property, you can be liable for any injuries or damages.  Maintaining homeowner’s insurance will help protect you from being responsible for any accidents on the property.

2. Maintain the upkeep of the house.  The city can still fine or cite you, as the home’s deed owner, for things like an unkempt lawn, or  a porch that needs to be painted.  If these types of fines and tickets are ignored for extended amounts of time, some cities even issue arrest warrants for people.  Doing simple tasks like mowing the lawn can end up saving you money and a big hassle in the future.

3.  Prepare your house for changing seasons.  Make sure that windows are closed, and that pipes are clear and drained for the upcoming changing seasons.  If the temperatures drop unexpectedly, and the pipes burst because you did not drain them in preparation, you are responsible for the damages.

If something happens to or on your property, you are still responsible for any damages that may occur.  Failing to do these simple steps will not affect your bankruptcy; however, it will save you from potentially dealing with a very large hassle.  Fines or repair bills that arise after the filing date of the bankruptcy are not included as a part of the debts that are able to be discharged. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and are interested in surrendering your house, please contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today.

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