Worried About Eviction? What A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing Can And Cannot Do To Help

Among the issues that could lead to bankruptcy filing, keeping a roof over you and your family's head is one of the most important. If you are behind on your rent, your landlord can take legal actions to ensure that you vacate your home, and normally this can only be prevented with getting caught up on the past due rent. If you are considering a bankruptcy filing, you may be wondering if you can put a stop to an eviction. Read on to learn more about how a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing could, or may not, help you avoid eviction.

The Automatic Stay

Once you file for chapter 7 bankruptcy, a virtual stop sign pops up in front of your creditors, informing them that further bill collection actions must cease. With the automatic stay, you are protected from collection activity, utility disconnections, and, depending on circumstances, an eviction. Whether or not the automatic stay protects you from eviction depends on where in the process the eviction has progressed.

If A Formal Eviction Has Not Been Filed

For those who have been threatened with eviction, but no papers have been filed in court, the automatic stay should allow you to stay in your home for a certain period of time. The stay is only temporary, unless you can "cure" the debt and get caught up on the rent payments. Use this temporary reprieve to funnel the money that was going to other debts, like credit card debt, to your rent. Once you file bankruptcy, you no longer need to send buckets of money to your creditor's, so use the extra available cash to make nice with the landlord. At the very least, the temporary stay could give you more time to make other living arrangements.

If A Formal Eviction Has Been Filed

If your landlord managed to file papers in court before you, you likely cannot count on the automatic stay to keep you in your home. Every state has slightly different landlord-tenant laws, so the circumstances under which an eviction can occur varies somewhat in regard to a bankruptcy declaration. In some states, you may still be allowed to "cure" the eviction by bringing your payments up to date.

Exceptions to the Automatic Stay

Regardless of the timing, the automatic stay only protects you from being evicted if the reason for the eviction is past due rents. If the reason for the eviction is some of the following, the stay won't help you:

  • Lease violations, such as having an unauthorized pet or subleasing a room of the house.
  • Drug or criminal activities.
  • Destruction of property or misuse of property.

Be sure to speak with your bankruptcy attorney (like Greg Dunn Bankruptcy Attorney) for more information about avoiding eviction with a bankruptcy filing.