Strip Off: When Bankruptcy and a Second Mortgage Are an Opportunity for Florida Homeowners

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Update: On June 1, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States held in Bank of America, N.A. v. Caulkett that a debtor (bankruptcy filer) cannot strip off a junior mortgage lien in a Chapter 7 case. You can view the case here.. If you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, you cannot get rid of second mortgages, home equity lines of credit (HELOCs), or home equity loans.

With Central Florida. troubled homeowners are so deep "underwater" with their loans that they can take advantage of the mortgage provisions in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Patton said. "We’re doing a.

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Eliminating Second Mortgage Debt in Chapter 13 "Lien Stripping" – Read the Bankruptcy legal blogs that have been posted by Attorneys on Lawyers.com

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida allowed the debtor to "strip off" (or void) the second mortgage. On appeal, the eleventh circuit affirmed. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Eleventh Circuit and held that the debtor may not void the second mortgage under the Bankruptcy Code.

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The two Florida homeowners say that filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection with a first mortgage that is worth more than their property’s value allows them to "strip off" the lien from the second mortgage. When both loans are underwater, the second lien is essentially valueless, the homeowners’ lawyers argue.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of banks when it came to determining that struggling homeowners can’t get rid of a second mortgage using Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Because the second mortgage is now unsecured, it can be stripped off during bankruptcy, thus eliminating the homeowner’s liability to pay this second mortgage.

The justices ruled in two Florida cases that bankrupt homeowners can’t "strip off" a second loan even if they are underwater on the first loan. Both cases involved property owners who were allowed.