Chapter 13 bankruptcy: a remedy as Ohio foreclosure rates increase

While many may assume the worst of the housing collapse is over, financial institutions in Ohio are aggressively pursuing foreclosures to clear troubled properties off their books. As a result, Ohio had the third-highest rate of foreclosures nationwide in April. For some, an Ohio Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a way to stay in their home and stop the foreclosure process.

According to data from RealtyTrac, Ohio had not ranked in the top three states for foreclosure filings since November 2007. Foreclosure filings increased 12 percent from March. Some examples of these filings include, default notices, auctions and bank repossessions. Scheduled auctions increased almost a third from March and were up 73 percent from April 2012.

In Ohio, a bank must use the court system to initiate a foreclosure. The court case starts with an initial complaint. Then if the homeowner does not respond, the court grants a default judgment and the bank can proceed with a sale of the property. With the surge in foreclosure activity in the state, more homeowners may want to consult an Ohio bankruptcy attorney to discuss whether bankruptcy might be an option.

Benefits of Chapter 13

The first benefit of a bankruptcy filing is the automatic stay. This means that generally creditors must stop contacting you directly. If your home is in the foreclosure process, a filing will halt the proceedings. You must file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection before your mortgage company completes a foreclosure sale or you may still lose your home.

Another benefit is that Chapter 13 allows you to reschedule your debts, discharge some unsecured debts - credit cards, medical bills and second mortgages, if your home is underwater - and possibly lower monthly payments. This type of bankruptcy is similar to debt consolidation and protects any co-signers, as well. The primary benefit of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy for a home owner is that it permits the homeowner to keep their home while paying the delinquency on the mortgage over a period of from three to five years.

Under this type of bankruptcy, you will not have any direct contact with creditors, but you must make payments to a trustee. The trustee then pays each of the creditors.

How does a Chapter 13 work?

Chapter 13 starts with filing a petition in your local bankruptcy court. A bankruptcy trustee reviews debts and income, so generally you must file the following:

  • A schedule of your assets and debts
  • A detailed listing of your current monthly income and expenses
  • A list of executory contracts and unexpired leases
  • A statement of financial affairs and a certificate of credit counseling

The trustee evaluates the case and collects payments over the term of the plan. A Chapter 13 plan may last from three to five years, which may require adjustment to living on less each month. Once you complete payment under the plan, remaining debts are discharged.

If you are struggling with debts that you may never be able to pay, contact a bankruptcy attorney. If you own a home, Chapter 13 might give you piece of mind by proving you with a remedy that permits you to keep your home.