Among the many financial issues that might bring on bankruptcy, getting behind on your rent can cause the most stress. Since most people try to pay their rent even if they cannot pay their credit card bills, being behind on the rent means that the time may have come to declare bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing could help keep some of your creditors off your back, but what about your landlord? To learn more about how a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing affects evictions, read on
The Power of the Automatic Stay
One of the great, immediate benefits of a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is the automatic stay. This powerful and wide-ranging legal maneuver puts up a virtual stop sign to creditors. Collection calls, utility disconnections and, sometimes, evictions are halted. Whether or not the automatic stay can stop your eviction depends on how far in the process your landlord has gone.
A Formal Eviction Has Not Been Filed
If eviction procedures haven't moved past the threat stage, the automatic stay will protect you if you can file before the landlord does. Unfortunately, the stay is only temporary and the landlord will eventually be allowed to evict you. However, the temporary reprieve may give you some much needed time to bring your rent payment up to date and avoid eviction altogether. Remember, all of the available cash that has been going toward the high minimum credit card payments will now be available for other purposes, such as keeping a roof over your head.
A Formal Eviction Has Been Filed
If your landlord made it to the Clerk of the Court's office before you did, you cannot count on the automatic stay to help you. Be sure to discuss the specific rules about evictions in your state with your bankruptcy attorney, since in some states you can "cure" the debt and avoid the eviction, even if it was filed prior to your bankruptcy.
Some Exceptions to the Automatic Stay
If you are being evicted for reasons other than being behind on your rent, the automatic stay won't protect you from being evicted. For example, if you are being evicted for the follow reasons, the stay won't apply:
- violations of the lease, such as letting unauthorized people live with you, whether you are being paid or not
- having a pet when not allowed
- drug activity
- criminal activity
- destruction of the property
If you have fallen behind on your rent and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and stay in your home. Consider contacting a professional like Greg Dunn Bankruptcy Attorney for assistance.