In Colorado, your landlord may issue a Notice to Vacate if you are chronically late in paying your rent. As receiving this notice is a preliminary step to eviction, you may be only days away from being thrown out of your apartment. Depending on how quickly you act, filing bankruptcy may either afford you a brief delay or give you an opportunity to avoid eviction and remain in your residence.
Colorado Eviction Procedures
Under Colorado law, your landlord is required to give you a written notice, called a Notice to Vacate, before initiating formal legal action to evict you from your apartment. The Notice to Vacate must indicate why your are being evicted, state that you have repeatedly violated the lease, be signed by the landlord or his lawyer, and give you at least three days to move out. If you do not vacate the residence, the landlord must file a civil complaint seeking eviction and a summons with the court no sooner than four days after issuing the Notice to Vacate. A court hearing will be set between five and 10 days after you are served the civil complaint and summons. If the court finds in the landlord's favor, you will be issued a legally enforceable order to vacate the apartment. A sheriff may forcibly remove you from the residence 48 hours after this order is issued.
If you file for consumer bankruptcy protection under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code, you will be granted an automatic legal stay from any collection actions of your creditors and your landlord. As this stay begins the moment you file the bankruptcy petition, any efforts by your landlord to collect rent or evict you must cease.
If you have already been to court and a judge orders you evicted, filing bankruptcy to postpone forcible eviction by the sheriff is not an appropriate use of the bankruptcy process. In fact, you will be committing a fraud on the bankruptcy court if your sole reason in seeking bankruptcy protection is to delay eviction. In this situation, your landlord may file a motion to have the automatic stay lifted from your lease so he can execute the eviction order. Furthermore, the bankruptcy court may sanction you for your abuse of the system by throwing your bankruptcy case out, and requiring that you pay penalties to your landlord as well as his court costs and fees, or even face jail time.
Reaffirmation and Assuming the Lease
At the end of your bankruptcy case most outstanding debts are wiped clean. Although this discharge eases some of your financial troubles, it does not require your landlord to allow you to live rent-free. You are required to file a statement of intention with the bankruptcy court within 30 days after filing your bankruptcy petition indicating whether you will reaffirm and assume your lease or surrender your apartment. If you choose to vacate your apartment, then you must leave the residence immediately or else face eviction. The main benefit of surrendering your apartment is that you will never be required to pay any back rent owed to your landlord after your case is discharged. If you elect to reaffirm and assume the lease you are committing to all the terms in the lease contract and to pay any back rent that is owed. So long as you cure your lease and make your future rent payments on time, you will be permitted to remain in your apartment.