Should a Massachusetts homeowner be allowed to claim a homestead exemption in a principal residence that is also used for business or other commercial purposes? Answering this question several years ago as a matter of first impression, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts adopted a fact-intensive, case-by-case inquiry into the “predominant use” of the property. The predominant use test was developed to address the point at which an owner forfeits homestead protection in the pursuit of commercial activity. The inquiry recognizes the ubiquity of the home office or boarder in modern residences. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Katz’s recent opinion in In re Shove takes a fresh look at the Massachusetts Homestead Statute and rejects the predominant use inquiry as unnecessary and, in some cases, unduly burdensome on the homesteader.
On December 1, 2016, the amendments to Bankruptcy Rule 3002.1 aimed at clarifying when a secured creditor must file a payment change notice (“PCN”) in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy take effect. The new rule requires secured creditors to file PCNs on all claims secured by the Chapter 13 debtor’s primary residence for which the debtor or Chapter 13 Trustee is making post-petition payments during the bankruptcy, without regard to whether the debtor is curing a pre-petition arrearage. The new rule also clarifies that the PCN requirement ceases once the creditor obtains relief from stay, unless the court orders otherwise.
Our prior alerts and articles detailing the amendments can be viewed at: