Receiving notice that a unit owner has filed for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Protection is not the end of a Homeowner’s Association, Cooperative or Condominium Association’s (collectively referred to as the "Association") rights to receive unpaid Association fees. However, action must be taken by the Association quickly in order to preserve its rights in the bankruptcy proceeding. A proof of claim should be filed to ensure that the amount of the pre-bankruptcy debt, including all arrearages, are properly documented. If a proof of claim is not filed, the Association may lose its right to receive payment on account of its pre-bankruptcy claim.
Under the Rules of Court, an objection to confirmation of a Chapter 13 plan must be filed with the court and served within a defined time period. A properly filed proof of claim that asserts a claim that is greater than the scheduled amount of the claim or the amount of the claim designated in the plan by the unit owner, serves as an objection to confirmation as to the amount of the claim. The trustee will confirm the plan based upon the higher amount set forth in the proof of claim, but that is not the end of the matter. The unit owner has sixty days to challenge the amount of the Association’s claim by filing a motion with the court. Thus, the Association must take affirmative action to secure its rights at the time notice of a Chapter 13 petition is received and during the confirmation proceedings. The Association must also monitor the case for sixty days following confirmation of the plan in case the unit owner decides to challenge the Association’s claim.
Stark & Stark’s Bankruptcy Group has filed numerous proof of claims in Chapter 13 matters and has monitored the claims process from start to finish. To ensure that your Association is protected, contact us as soon as notice of the filing of a Chapter 13 case is received.