Homeowners wishing to walk away from their debt obligations have long turned to the “fresh start” provisions of the Federal bankruptcy code which allows them to discharge most debts and obligations and start thier lives fresh and debt free after the bankruptcy is discharged.
One type of debt which is not covered by the fresh start provisions is post-petition HOA dues and assessments, and potentially code enforcement liens. Even if a homeowner surrenders the property as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the homeowner is still the record title owner of the property and thus still responsible for HOA dues and assessments. This is a troubling problem for the homeowner who seeks the protections of the bankruptcy code and who wishes to get a clean start, only to find that she is still burdened by accumulated HOA dues and fees. While it is clear that post-petition HOA dues are not discharged, code enforcement liens and any attempts to collect them from a debtor in bankruptcy may violate the automatic stay provisions of the Federal bankruptcy code. The decision in the Funk bankruptcy case out of Jacksonville provides the legal analysis and rationale for this, the decision can be found here http://www.floridadirtlaw.com/files/funk_decision_re_code_enforecment.pdf
The best hope for homeowners seeking release from all liability is to engage in short sale or deed in lieu discussions with the lender or attempt other solutions by working with an experienced real estate lawyer. For more information, visit my website at www.mattweidnerlaw.com