Consumer Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Consumer Bankruptcy Filings Level Off in August 2021

Bankruptcy filings leveled off last month, according to figures from technology company, Epiq. The company compiled filings through their AACER bankruptcy program which showed that in the month of August, 32,225 new bankruptcy cases were filed, including Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcy cases. This figure is down slightly from the 32,391 reported in July 2021.

Despite the fact that consumer bankruptcy filings have decreased, commercial bankruptcy filings have increased approximately one percent from July 2021 with 1,724 cases filed.

COVID-19, Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Supreme Court Ends Eviction Moratorium

The U.S. Supreme Court ended the pandemic-related federal moratorium on residential evictions imposed by President Biden’s administration. This eight-page decision effectively ends a debate that has divided party lines for months now during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ruling came down in a 6-3 decision, the court similarly divided along party and ideological lines.

The eviction moratorium was declared by Congress at the start of the pandemic. However, Congress’s moratorium expired in July 2020. The CDC then extended it by issuing a series of moratoriums under a 1944 law. The moratorium has consistently been extended, giving tenants and homeowners an opportunity to remain in their homes.

Landlords have consistently fought the moratorium, arguing that the longer it has been extended, the more they have suffered financially without any legal recourse.

The majority opinion stated that they believe the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exceeded their authority. They claim the CDC has relied on a statute that is decades-old that authorizes the CDC to implement emergency measures, such as fumigation and pest extermination, not a nationwide months-long moratorium on evictions.

COVID-19, Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Bank of America, Chase and Wells Fargo Announce Plans Following Expiration of Mortgage Foreclosure Moratoriums

As the stimulus programs put into place come to an end this year, many homeowners worry about what their futures will hold. Approximately 2.1 million homeowners are still utilizing these mortgage forbearance plans offered following the start of the pandemic, according to figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association, which means that many people are still set to be adversely affected once the moratoriums are lifted. 

Even more concerning, nearly 1.8 million families are not in forbearance on their mortgages but are at least 90 days delinquent on their mortgage accounts as of April 2021, according to data from Black Knight.   

Consumer Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Personal Bankruptcy Filings Drop in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic Relief

Personal bankruptcy filings are down, leaving many financial analysts questioning whether the drop in filings can be attributed to financial relief offered from governmental pandemic relief programs or to other economic factorsThis stimulus relief offered consumers a much-needed financial boost, but the question remains how long this boost will hold off future bankruptcy filings. 

Consumer Bankruptcy, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Small Business Bankruptcy

U.S. Bankruptcy Filings Drop 38 Percent

Bankruptcy filings are on the decline, according to a recent report.  Statistics released by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, reveal bankruptcy filings dropped 38.1 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2021. This dramatic drop in filings coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic, which first disrupted the economy in March 2020.

Bankruptcy filings fell for both personal and business bankruptcies. Non-business filings fell by a total of 38.8 percent, while business filings fell 13.9 percent.

COVID-19, Debt Collection

Debt Collection Lawsuits Pause While One Debt Collector Continues to Pursue Collections

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, most debt collectors hit the pause button on collection lawsuits due to widespread national lockdowns. However, one of the largest debt collectors, Sherman Financial Group, continued to pursue its collection efforts. 

According to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, Sherman Financial Group had the largest increase of any debt collection firm between March 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020. The study analyzed filings from five state-court districts from the start of the pandemic to the end of 2020. The number of filings went up by 52 percent from the previous year. In comparison, debt collection filings went down by 24 percent with respect to the industry overall. 

COVID-19, Foreclosure Defense, Foreclosures

Emergency Mortgage Relief Could Extend Through 2022

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of homeowners have benefited from the mortgage relief programs offered by the federal government, and some private lenders.  Now that a year has passed, approximately 2.5 million homeowners are still enrolled in some sort of mortgage relief program, whether it be payment suspension or mortgage forbearance, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) 

It is for this reason that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to extend these provisions and programs further into the future to ensure that these homeowners are not forced into foreclosure.  

COVID-19, student loan debt

New PPP Loan Rules Make It Easier for Student Loan Borrowers to Obtain Funds

New rules with respect to who can receive financial assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) will open the door for struggling student loan borrowers who have previously been unable to qualify for the PPP loan program. These new regulations took effect on March 1, 2021.  

The funds received through the PPP were meant to offer financial assistance to struggling businesses, allowing them to stay in operation during the COVID-19 pandemic. For the most part, these loans are forgiven later. Previously, any business that was owned 20 percent or more by an individual who had defaulted on his or her student loan payments was considered ineligible for PPP loan assistance. This rule clearly shut out a large group of individuals and businesses who arguably could use the governmental assistance.  

The Biden administration has changed this rule, effective March 1, 2021. A default or delinquency on student loan payments will not automatically disqualify a PPP loan applicant. This change comes along with several others, including priority access for businesses employing 20 or fewer individuals.  

Over the past several years, student loan debt has surpassed credit card and auto debt with over 42 million Americans carrying some amount of student loan debt. Of this number, approximately one-third of them are in either delinquency or default on these loans.  

According to a report by the Center for Responsible Lending, a large number of these borrowers are self-employed. Approximately 800,000 self-employed Americans are reportedly behind on their student loan payments. Additionally, 500,000 minorities have also be excluded from PPP assistance due to the status of their student loans.   Student loan reform advocates have praised this change, saying that small business owners have been bearing the brunt of the financial struggles suffered during the COVID pandemic.

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For borrowers who are struggling with student loan debt, relief options are available.  Many student loan borrowers are unaware that they have rights and repayment options available to them, such as postponement of loan payments, reduction of payments or even a complete discharge of the debt. There are ways to file for bankruptcy with student loan debt.  It is important you contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com. 

Business Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Wave of COVID-19 Bankruptcies Hitting U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

As the country nears the one-year mark since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial effects are continuing to have effect on consumers and small businesses. The pandemic forced the shutdown of countless businesses throughout the country, and the expected wave of impending Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases is only now beginning to hit the nation’s legal system.  

According to court records, the number of Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings were up by approximately 20 percent, when compared to filings in 2019. These numbers are only expected to grow. 

Certain sectors of the economy have been hit much harder than others. According to figures from New Generation Research, restaurants, retailers, entertainment companies, and real estate firms have filed for bankruptcy protection more now than in previous years. The number of bankruptcy filings made by entertainment companies quadrupled in 2020 alone. The number of filings has tripled for oil and gas companies, while doubling for restaurant owners, retailers, and real estate companies. 

Thus far, more than $3.7 trillion in federal stimulus money has been issued in an effort to help offset the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with this money and the possibility of more coming in the future, many businesses have not been able to survive.  

The true effects of the pandemic may not be seen for several years. After the Great Recession of 2007, the bankruptcies that resulted were not filed until 2010, a few years after the start of the recession 

The widespread shutdowns brought on by COVID-19 have hit the restaurant industry hard, and financial experts worry that they may be the hardest hit from the financial crisis. The route these businesses will take can vary depending on what the businesses owners have decided to do. Many of them have already made the decision to close down completely in lieu of pursuing a business bankruptcy. Others have chosen to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, meaning that their assets will be liquidated and used to pay down the debts, leaving the restaurants permanently closed. 

With so many people working from home, the need for office space has also dropped off dramatically, leading to a drop in real estate values for both retail and office spaces, hitting the real estate sector, as well. 

Some of the larger chain retailers who have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over the summer of 2021 include J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, and Lord and Taylor. According to S&P Global, there was an average of two corporate bankruptcy filings per day in the months of June and July.       

Not only have retailers been hit hard but their suppliers have, as well. An example of this is Country Fresh, a supplier of fresh fruit snacks, sides, soups, and salads to convenience stores, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy mid-February 2021. This filing represents just one of the many suppliers who have been hit hard and are still struggling from the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether more filings will follow as 2021 progresses.   

Please click here to read more.  

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

 

Bankruptcy Law, COVID-19, Medical Debt, student loan debt

Bankruptcy Reform Bill Proposed that will Discharge Student Loans and Medical Debt

The Medical Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2021 was unveiled by Democratic Senators this week in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill would make substantial reforms to the current bankruptcy code, making it easier for those struggling with student loan debt and medical debt to discharge the same in bankruptcy.

Currently, the bankruptcy code treats student loan debt differently from other types of consumer debt. Borrowers must show they meet the ‘undue hardship’ requirement in order to discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy.