We are still able to strip second mortgages in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy here in Tampa Bay. However, there is a risk that the window of opportunity may be closing. Bank of America has filed several challenges to the U.S. Supreme Court in the past couple of years. Two of these cases, the U.S. Supreme Court has granted certiorari and has agreed to hear them: Bank of America v. Caulkett, Case No. 13-1421 and Bank of America, v. Toledo-Cardonna, Case No. 14-163. Currently, we are in the only Circuit that allows the stripping of second mortgages and HOA liens in a Chapter 7. The only requirement is that the home be worth less than the first mortgage at the time of filing. Once stripped, the second mortgage lien is gone forever, unless the bankruptcy discharge is revoked which is very rare.
Although we can strip an HOA lien, they are a little different in that they will likely have to be paid on transfer of the property by sale or death, even though avoided. Several cases out of the Southern District of Florida have addressed this in the past year. In re Sain, 2013 Bankr. LEXIS 4564 (Bankr. S.D. Fla. Oct. 29, 2013); In re Sain, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12219 (S.D. Fla. Jan 31. 2014) and Stonebridge Gardens Sec Two v. Campbell, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7195 (S.D. Fla. 2014).
Many people are still not aware that we can strip a second mortgage in a bankruptcy. So please help spread the word to those who may be in an underwater home, barely treading water themselves. This may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to use this law to get the home back to a position where equity can be rebuilt for retirement. With property values going up, sooner is better than later.
For more information about filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, please see Arkovich Law.