Q: While a house is in bankruptcy, can an HOA place a lien on the house or possibly foreclose on the house due to unpaid fees during the time you are actually under Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

A: Filing for bankruptcy immediately stops all proceedings against the debtor in bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor must file a plan with the court to account for all debts and how they are going to be paid.

The bankruptcy only buys time and delays the creditors from pursuing their claims without bankruptcy court approval. As far as the HOA is concerned, it already has a lien on the property because the deed restrictions give it to them. The amounts owed to the HOA ultimately will have to be paid, but no foreclosure proceedings can go forward without getting the bankruptcy court approval.

Q: I received a phone solicitation from a moving company asking if it could give us an estimate. We are on a no-call list. Although we are selling a house, we don't live there, yet they had our current phone number. They said a Realtor told them about the sale. We know it wasn't our Realtor, and find it disturbing that another Realtor has obviously given out our private information.

A: It is the moving company that should have checked with the Do Not Call List ("DNCL"). The moving company told you a Realtor gave them your phone number. Maybe the moving company is correct and maybe they're not. It is not very difficult to obtain unlisted phone numbers or phone numbers on a DNCL. However, if you know the Realtor's name who you were told leaked your phone number to the moving company, you might have grounds for a complaint against that Realtor.

Q: How can Realtors avoid the implications of the court of appeals ruling (last week's column, last question) that three email messages, two from the real estate agent, one from the seller, create an enforceable earnest money contract?

A: You might consider asking your attorney or your broker's company attorney, for some boilerplate statement to add to all of your outgoing emails, similar to this: "Notice: This email message, or any series of email messages, is not intended to create a contract under the Texas Uniform Electronic Transaction Act between the sender (insert your name here) and the recipient. Only an attached, faxed or otherwise complete document including, without limitation, signatures, or DocuSign, or other electronic form of signature acceptable to both parties will create a contract."

There is always the possibility that a court might look at that as a self-serving statement that no one has agreed to, but such a statement cannot hurt and might help.

Q: I recently added about 900 square feet of personal space in my attic. The addition matches the existing house's type of construction. The original plans show this room space, but it never was constructed (i.e., finished out). I did the construction myself except for the drywall, carpet and connecting the refrigerant lines to the new 2-ton central air conditioning and heating unit. Everything meets codes to my knowledge. Permits weren't required because I did not change the outward appearance. I'm wondering about the resale value (square-foot price of the existing house is $118) and I'm concerned because I did not have sealed engineering plans. What value can I expect from the addition and should I expect difficulties when I sell? Thank you for your help and comments.

A: When you sell your house, you will have to fill out a seller disclosure form. One of the questions is whether or not you have done any construction without a permit. If no permits were required, you would add 900 square feet to the original square footage of your home, then multiply by $118 per square foot to arrive at the possible value of your home.

However, it is very significant as to exactly how you determined that no building permits were required. If you called the local permitting office and determined that you did not need permits for any and all of the work done on or in your space, then we'd recommend you make a complete list of the work done, including the drywall, painting, hooking up the A/C vents and any electrical. Keep that list and the date and time you made the phone call.

Otherwise, you will have to answer "yes" on the seller's disclosure notice. That will trigger an inspection of that construction. If it's not up to code, you'll have a real problem, in our opinion. You may lose the sale, or have to bring the project up to code. What you may have saved initially, you may have to pay for in the long run. In our opinion, it is never smart to do a project without permits.

To send us a question visit www.AskGeorge.net and select the "Ask A Question" button. Our answers to questions do not contain legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice, you should consult your own attorney. George Stephens is the broker of Stephens Properties. Charles J. Jacobus, J.D. is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Residential and Commercial Real Estate Law.