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Will Filing Bankruptcy Cause Your Eviction?

November 28, 2011

Can you get evicted for declaring bankruptcy?  This is a tricky question and depends on the individual facts of your case.If you file a Chapter 7 and are not behind in your rent payments, then the general answer is, “No.” Filing a bankruptcy case does not breach or terminate the lease agreement, so the landlord cannot evict simply because you seek bankruptcy protection.

In a Chapter 13 case, the bankruptcy trustee may weigh whether terminating your lease agreement would benefit your creditors. The trustee might consider terminating the agreement if you are paying a great deal more in rent than what most people in your area are paying. The purpose is to reduce your expenses and free up money to pay creditors. The trustee may seek this termination regardless of whether you’re violated your lease or are behind in rents.

If you are behind in rents prior to the bankruptcy filing, the federal laws prevent the landlord from evicting you during the bankruptcy. This protection, called the “automatic stay,” stops all collection action against you, and forces the evicting landlord to seek relief from the bankruptcy court. However, if you are endangering the rental property or using controlled substances illegally on the premises, the landlord may be able to evict during the bankruptcy. The landlord must file a certification to the bankruptcy court and the tenant has 15 days to respond. The court must hold a hearing within 10 days.

The bankruptcy automatic stay will not relieve you from your obligation to pay rent after the bankruptcy filing date. If you fall behind on your rent payments after the bankruptcy is filed, your landlord may evict you, but cannot seek payment of past rents. If you are not behind on rents at the time the bankruptcy case is filed, your landlord is not a creditor and will not receive notice of your bankruptcy filing. However, you must account for any rent deposit on your bankruptcy schedules.

If your landlord has already obtained a judgment for possession and order of eviction before you file bankruptcy, the legal process is more complex. You must deposit one month of rent with the bankruptcy court along with a statement that the judgment permits you to stay in the premises upon satisfaction of the entire judgment amount. This filing stays the eviction process for thirty days. If you wish to remain longer, the entire judgment amount must be paid within the thirty day period.

Bankruptcy can stop an eviction and give you time to move or make arrangements to stay. If you are facing eviction from your rental home and contemplating bankruptcy, discuss your situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Your attorney can give you legal advice that will help your specific case.


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