When Your Landlord Has Had Enough: What To Know About Bankruptcy And Evictions

Dealing with bill collectors and ponying up for those high minimum payments on credit cards are bad enough, but when you're afraid that you are about to lose the roof over your head, it gets serious. If some bad financial decisions have you considering the bankruptcy option, you should know that you may be able to put your landlord off for a bit longer, at least temporarily. Read on to learn more details about using bankruptcy to give you more time in your rental home.

The automatic stay.

Once your chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed with the court, you are awarded certain legal protections. The automatic stay works to prevent certain actions from your creditors, such as wage garnishment, bill collections, utility shut-offs and, in some cases, evictions. Your chances of being evicted, even with the protection of the automatic stay, depends a lot on how far the eviction process has progressed.

1. If the landlord has threatened you with eviction but has not actually filed any documents with the court: You will likely get a temporary break from the need to search for a new place to live. You should try to work with your landlord to bring your payments up to date, since trying to rent a new place during bankruptcy may be nearly impossible. Keep in mind that all the money that was going toward your credit cards and other bills that are included on your bankruptcy can now be funneled to get you caught up on your rent.

2. If the landlord has actually filed eviction paperwork with the courts: You may need to take action to find a new place to live. The amount of time you actually have varies from state to state, so be sure check with your bankruptcy attorney about the actual eviction process. Some states are more lenient if you have an open bankruptcy, giving you an opportunity to "cure" the eviction by bringing your rent up to date.

Exceptions to the automatic stay.

The reason given by the landlord for the eviction is important: the automatic stay only protects you from evictions that are caused by being behind on your rent. If you have violated your lease agreement in some other manner, such as damaging the property or criminal behavior, the eviction will be allowed to proceed.

To get more information about your chances of being evicted, speak with a bankruptcy attorney, such as E.J. Hagan Associates P.C. as soon as possible and help ensure that you and your family are not put out on the streets.