Regarding "Get help with next stage of foreclosure" (Rules of the Roost column, Baylife and Travel, June 2).
The columnist did the public and the writer (M.P. of Tarpon Springs) a disservice by failing to mention a Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a possible alternative to the impending foreclosure sale by the HOA. Telling the homeowner to simply pay the debt in full is not helpful. Had that been an alternative, then presumably the homeowner would have already done so.
If the homeowner has regular income sufficient to fund a Chapter 13 repayment plan (and has total debt below limits specified by the Bankruptcy Code), then the HOA delinquency, as well as any mortgage loan delinquency, can be paid back in equal installments over a five-year period.
The homeowner also must be able to timely fund the going-forward HOA fees and mortgage loan payments, plus a Chapter 13 trustee fee, to take advantage of the lengthy cure period for the delinquent payments. In bankruptcy, other potential options could be explored, such as a mediated resolution with the HOA and a modification of the mortgage loan to bring the ongoing payments down.
The better advice to the writer would have been to consult with an attorney to explore all potential options, including bankruptcy. For more information about bankruptcy, start with a visit to your local bankruptcy court's website. In the Tampa Bay area, the website address is www.flmb.uscourts.gov.
Catherine Peek McEwen
TampaThe writer is a U.S. Bankruptcy judge for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division.