Meeting with a client with Truth in Lending claims the other day reminded me about the power of the Bankruptcy Code to facilitate the sale of property subject to disputed liens while preserving the claims against a secured creditor.
These clients had property they wanted to sell but the amount they owed the holder of the first was in dispute. They asserted that the lender had violated Truth in Lending and had elected to rescind the loan. The parties were fighting about how much the clients had to tender to the lender as a result of the rescission.
Generally, a seller has to pay off all the liens on the property in order to deliver clear title to the buyer. Outside of bankruptcy, they might have to pay the creditor’s claim and sue to get it back. There is some risk of losing a TILA claim upon sale, as well.
Under Section 363 (f), the bankruptcy court can order the property sold and the liens to attach to the proceeds of sale. Thus, the debtor/seller and the secured creditor can argue later over the fund of money created by the sale, rather than having to resolve disputes before sale of the property. The costs of preserving the property in the interim are eliminated.
This section of the code speaks of the trustee as the seller, but the Chapter 13 debtor has most of the same powers as are granted to a Chapter 7 trustee. One more in my long list of why I love Chapter 13.