Law Offices of W. George Senft


How Long Can I Stay in my Home During Bankruptcy?

Filing bankruptcy in Oregon can be a whirlwind experience with emotional highs and lows. You may become discouraged when you think of the negative consequences of filing, such as a lowered credit score, and you may even fear losing important possessions, such as your home. For most people, the benefits of filing far outweigh the drawbacks. Once you file, you won’t need to deal with debt collectors, and you could be debt free. Many factors go into determining what happens to your property, but I’m here to build a case for you that will discharge as much debt as possible while protecting your property.


Making Choices

No two cases are alike, and bankruptcy doesn’t have to mean foreclosure. If you choose to file a Chapter 13, your property will not be affected, as long as you complete your 3-5 year repayment plan; you may even be able to have mortgage arrearages rolled into your plan. If your mortgage payment is simply unreasonable for your current financial situation, you may decide it’s best to file a Chapter 7 and surrender your home. You may also file a Chapter 7 and keep your home if you can stay up to date on your payments.

No matter which chapter you file, the automatic stay will give you a temporary break from making mortgage payments. Your mortgage company may no longer contact you to collect payments, and if you were behind on payments and in foreclosure, those proceedings must stop. If you don’t get caught up, though, your mortgage company will probably file a “motion for relief from the automatic stay,” which allows them to move forward with foreclosure. If this is your situation, I’ll help you navigate these waters.


Time to Move on?

If the court agrees to lift the automatic stay and you aren’t up to date on your mortgage payments, the bank will give you your move out date. For some companies, this takes just a couple of weeks, while others could take up to a year. Regardless of the exact time, you’ll need to make a plan for other living arrangements and have enough money for a new place. When you shop for a new rental, be realistic about your budget and how much you can comfortably afford to pay. This will guide you as you consider your needs and wants in a new place, and you may need to be flexible. Be willing to live somewhere you may not absolutely love, knowing that your finances will get back on track and you can make another move later. Landlords almost always pull your credit report and some may be hesitant to rent to someone with a foreclosure or bankruptcy on their record. Be prepared to provide documentation proving you can afford the rent. You may also want to include a brief note explaining your situation.


A New Plan

Thinking of moving under the best of circumstances can be stressful enough, but when it’s due to finances and not really what you want to do, it can become overwhelming. You don’t have to face this alone. I can help you make a plan to either keep your home by making the necessary cuts and strategic choices or to move somewhere more affordable after being free from a crippling mortgage payment. Let’s work together to get your finances under control and make a new start.