How Long Can I Stay In My Home When Filing Bankruptcy & Can I Keep My Home After?

As experienced foreclosure and bankruptcy attorneys, we often encounter questions from our clients who are potentially facing both of these at once. Do they get to keep their home? How long can they stay in it? What if they don’t want to keep the home? Recently, one client presented the following question specifically:

If I can’t afford my home anymore and need to get out of the debt by filing for bankruptcy, how long do I have before I have to leave?

If you are a homeowner, one of the most important and frequent questions we face as experienced bankruptcy attorneys is “are we going to lose our house?” While there are exceptions, for most people the answer is no.

This does not mean you get a free ride however. If you want to keep your house, you have to maintain payments on it. If you can’t afford the payments, you will have to move on as the lender will eventually foreclose.

The question is, how long will you have? In Maryland in particular, due to a moratorium on foreclosures, home owners who filed bankruptcy and elected to “surrender” the property and get out of the debt on a home they could not afford were able to remain in the house without paying for long periods – sometimes years. This was not a healthy system and has created a host of problems.

In other states afflicted by high numbers of foreclosures, similar patterns emerged. In an effort to curtail long post-bankruptcy occupancy of homes, the 11th Judicial Circuit, located in Florida, resolved a split among courts and held that debtors who elect to “surrender” property cannot oppose a later foreclosure and further that a debtor must give up possession and not force the lender to initiate eviction proceedings.

As noted in the court’s ruling, failure to live up to the election to “surrender” could even result in discharge revocation, that is, the revocation of the legal order eliminating one’s debts. While it remains to be seen how the Florida decision (Failla v. Citibank NA (In re Failla), 15-15626 (Oct. 4, 2016, 11th Cir Court of Appeals)) will impact states such as Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, it is worth noting that generally, after your bankruptcy case is over, you will likely have at least a reasonable time thereafter to arrange your affairs to move on.

You should meet with the experienced foreclosure and bankruptcy attorneys at Goren & Tucci, LLC, to find out more about your particular circumstances to see if you can file bankruptcy and keep your home, or, if need be, surrender your home, wipe out the debt, but maximize your time to arrange your affairs.  Call Goren & Tucci, LLC today at 301.977.4300 for a free consultation.