When the topic of the underwater house comes up in New York bankruptcy, a few options are regularly (and rightly) listed: short-sales, offering the deed in lieu of foreclosure, staying and paying, foreclosure (the worst option), and bankruptcy. One that doesn’t come up often is moving out and renting the residence. It’s an intriguing idea with benefits and drawbacks.
- Obviously, a homeowner-cum-landlord can “downgrade” to a cheaper residence and use the difference in housing costs to pay down debts, including the underwater mortgage. This is probably the principal reason for bothering with renting.
- Furthermore, it might be possible for homeowners to enter into a rent-to-own agreement on a new property while paying down the debt on the first one. This kind of situation might be hard to come by, but if it does, the homeowner can ultimately sell the first property off without suffering a loss.
As for the drawbacks, there are a few:
- Renting out property requires the owner to continue maintaining the residence. These costs, on top of those related to living somewhere else, might not make the idea worthwhile.
- Tenants will usually have an advantage in price because an underwater home can’t stay unoccupied for too long. It also might mean renting to less than ideal residents because they will need to be more willing to live in a home that’s a foreclosure risk.
- The worst case scenario—aside from horror stories of tenants running amok and destroying everything—is that the lack of regular rent-paying tenants results in foreclosure, which ought to be dealt with in bankruptcy. On the bright side, though, you won’t be the one evicted.
In New York bankruptcy, trustees might sell underwater rental properties to creditors, but most of the time they don’t.
Renting an underwater home can work in the right circumstances, like for homeowners who live nearby or have help maintaining the place. For those who might think bankruptcy is a better idea, then it’s time to talk to an experienced New York bankruptcy lawyer.
For answers to more questions about underwater houses, bankruptcy, the automatic stay, effective strategies for dealing with foreclosure, and protecting your assets in bankruptcy please feel free to contact experienced bankruptcy lawyer brooklyn NY Bruce Weiner for a free initial consultation.