My Life: Chapter 13
The past 11 months have been the most uncomfortable in my life. Even more uncomfortable than being 8 months pregnant in the heat of August . I struggle with the word uncomfortable, because it does not quite hit the nail on the head, I know that it could have been so much worse. But uncomfortable it is.
We were forced into foreclosure, even with a signed purchase agreement and then when the home was purchased at auction, by the same purchasers, the mortgage company chose to sue us for the difference. Since we did not have a surplus of $60,000 laying about we ended up in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Most people when they think of bankruptcy they think of a clean slate and a redo with the minor inconvenience of a couple of years with no credit. That is the case in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, not the case with chapter 13. You get relegated to chapter 13 when you make too much money to liquidate debt, and they reorganize it for you. How this looks in the whole scheme of things is this: the trustee of our account decides what they feel is appropriate for us to live on based on our housing, utilities, secured debt (ie; car payments) insurance, gas and groceries for the number of family members. They basically take the rest, for 5 years.
At this point I had resigned myself to being placed under “bank arrest” and had come to terms with it and have learned to make concessions in the way we live.
Then the unexpected happened. Our landlord for the past 4 years has decided to sell the house. I cannot fault her for it, she had been renting it out for over 5 years, waiting for the market to turn the corner while she lives on the other side of the country. I am not taking it personally. It just gave us a whole set of circumstances we had not planned for. And no one could prepare me for right now.
We have been looking for new housing for a few months. Renting a property is not something you can do too far in advance, as most property owners are looking for a 30 day turn, if not sooner. And apparently, properties go quite quickly! After multiple inquiries and extensive searches we finally landed one we felt would do the job for our family. We applied, got all of the required paperwork together, only to be denied. Not too disgruntled, we kept the search on, only to be denied before I even looked at the property. They were not remotely interested in the fact that we have a near perfect rental history or that we make almost 5 times the rental rate. As soon as I told them we were in chapter 13 they denied us.
Our lease ends in one week. We are placing all of our belongings into storage and hoping for one last-ditch effort on Monday. If it does not pan out, we will be homeless. And that is a very uncomfortable feeling. You can make a 6 figure salary and be homeless. And that is my life in chapter 13.
Most of my close friends are well aware of what has been happening and have been a great support to us, but what has been really frustrating is that no one talks about this. There are no “reality stories” or blog posts by people going through this to be found. Every google search leads you right back to the same 3 law websites with lots of technical jargon and no practical advice or words of wisdom. No one is talking about it, but there are many going through it. So, my hope (beyond finding a place to live) is that may be someone else is going through this, finds this post and can feel a little less uncomfortable.