Chapter 13 Discharge Question
I no longer have an attorney since my Chapter 13 was discharged and thought someone could help with a question that I con't seem to get answered. I'll first tell my situation and then ask the question. 9 years ago I had a high paying job but had to relocate for it. At the time I owed 89K on a condo that was appraised at 135K. I put pretty much put all my excess money in the equity. I had a few credit cards but used them sparingly with enough money in the bank to pay off any balance. I had the condo on the market for 3 years with 3 realtors but could not find a buyer due to high condo fees (~$350/mo). I eventually had the condo listed for 99K but still no buyer. In the 4th year on the market, I was the victim of corporate downsizing. I was never out of work but lost 3 jobs in a row. When I finally landed a solvent job my pay had been cut by 52%. I had depleted all of my savings and borrowed money on low interest credit cards to try to preserve the equity in the condo. When the money ran out, I was advised to surrender the condo and file a Chapter 13. I had sterling credit prior, never even a late bill payment. I successfully endured 4 hard years of Chapter 13 and it is now discharged. Here's my question: 1) I stayed current with all mortgage payments but missed one through an oversight and didn't get any notice from the mortgage company. When the company took me to court, I paid it immediately and have not missed a payment since. That one miss seemed to make the company very bloodthirsty or to throw their computers completely out of whack. Although I did not miss another payment, the mortgage company took me to court two more times saying I was late on payments, but the judge ruled me to be current after reviewing my bank statement in both appearances. The last court hearing, my attorney said that the judge had issued a"stern warning" after reviewing my flawless repayment record. One week after my 13 was discharged, this mortgage issued me a statement with over $1000 in attorney fees. I can understand the first fee for the late payment (although a simple note to my attorny would have fixed the problem). But if the ruling was in my favor on the second two hearings, am I responsible for their attorney fees since their records were in error? This whole mortage situation has caused me incredible amounts of stress but no company will refinance my house, now valued at 118K, I owe 91K. I think it is because of the eroneous credit reports from this mortgage company Anyone been through anything remotely like this? I'd appeciate any help.
You'll need to retain a (rather) knowledgeable attorney to fight this, but they violated the terms of the bankruptcy discharge. *ALL* attorney's fees relative to a bankruptcy *MUST* be approved by the judge. Judges do not take kindly to anyone messing with their declarations. Federal judges have even less forbearance on this point. If they are claiming that the attorney's fees are for the appearances before the bankruptcy judge, then they needed to have had them approved by that judge before the bankruptcy was discharged. Once they agreed to the discharge, they were agreeing that you were current with them. Now that they are claiming that you were not current, you need to seek the protection of the court. Since the fees were for actions that were part of the bk, your attorney may be able to get the bk reopened (this is different in each bk court, and you'll need the attorney referenced above). The "lying in wait" bit seems to be rather common with some mortgage lenders -- once you've finished your bk, you don't have a lawyer on retainer (your bk lawyer has to stay with the case until it is discharged, unless s/he specifically asks to be relieved) and some lenders think that they can get away with murder. Once they are forced into court, they they either can a) claim that the $1000 is an accounting error, and they are no longer asking for the money, or b) admit that the $1000 was attorney fees for fighting the bk, and that they have no legitimate claim for the money. Google for "lying in wait"+mortgage and you'll find how many other folks are being/have been trapped like you.
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