Thursday, August 09, 2007

bankruptcy - ch. 13 - post-foreclosure sale cure

In re Connors - 3rd Circuit - August 3, 2007

Ending a dispute among N.J. district courts, the 3rd Circuit held that a Chapter 13 debtor does not have the right, under 11 USC 1322 (c) (1), to cure a default on a mortgage secured by the debtor's residence after the residence is sold at a foreclosure sale but before the deed is delivered.

The "unambiguous language of sec. 1322 (c) (1) supports the 'gavel rule.'" It says the a "default with respect to, or that gave rise to, a lien on the debtor's residence may be cured under paragraph (3) or (5) of subsection (b) until such residence is sold at a foreclosure sale that is conducted in accordance with applicable nonbankruptcy law…." The court said that numerous courts have held that a residence is "sold" at the foreclosure auction. The sale is final then, not when the deed is later delivered.

There is a provision, 11 USC 108(b), which allows a bankruptcy to be filed and a) objections to the sale to be filed or b) the property redeemed -- if the bankruptcy is filed before the expiration of a grace period established by a nonbankruptcy state law.

In this case, the debtor had the right to but did not exercise his statutory right to object to the foreclosure sale or redeem the property within 60 days of the filing of his chapter 13 petition, as permitted by N.J. state law and 11 USC 108(b).