Will I Receive Notice to Vacate After a Bankruptcy Is Discharged?

By Kevin Owen

Your landlord may not automatically evict you from your apartment just because you sought bankruptcy protection from your creditors. Your ability to keep your apartment depends on the type of bankruptcy that you file, the status of your rent payments to your landlord, and whether you keep your lease. Bankruptcy, however, does not prevent your landlord from removing you from the rental unit if eviction procedures were initiated before you filed your bankruptcy petition.

Automatic Stay

If your landlord has already filed suit and obtained a court order evicting you from your apartment, your bankruptcy filing will not stop the eviction from occurring. Although you obtain an automatic stay, halting eviction and other debt collection efforts by your creditors, your landlord can seek permission from the court to evict you from your apartment for unpaid rent. Unless you immediately pay any back rent, bankruptcy law allows your landlord to restart the eviction 30 days after you file your bankruptcy petition.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you have few assets and do not earn much money, you probably have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court-appointed trustee is assigned authority to determine whether to assume or reject your lease. If the trustee rejects the lease, or lets 60 days go by without reaching a decision on your lease, then your landlord can resume eviction procedures even though your bankruptcy case is still pending. Once your bankruptcy case is discharged and the protections from your creditors end, your landlord may also seek damages for your breaking the lease.

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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you have assets that you want to protect from liquidation, or you make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. After filing a Chapter 13 petition, you are required to file a repayment plan with the court indicating whether you plan to continue with your lease and other proposed terms for repaying your creditors. Once the plan is approved, you are placed on a court-supervised repayment plan for three or five years. If you chose to reaffirm your lease, then your rent payments are included as part of your bankruptcy payment plan.

Assuming the Lease

If you assume your lease during bankruptcy, you are renewing your promise to pay your landlord and abide by all terms in the rental contract. If you were delinquent in your rent at the time you filed your bankruptcy petition, you are required to make catchup payments before the court will allow you to assume the lease. In assuming the lease you are committing to the same terms that were agreed to prior to your bankruptcy filing. The court does not have authority to extend or reduce your rent payments or otherwise modify the terms of your lease. If you fail to meet your rent payment obligations after assuming your lease in bankruptcy, your landlord may evict you for this new breach despite your pending bankruptcy case.

Bankruptcy Abuse

If you file bankruptcy solely in order to delay eviction, you are committing an abuse of the bankruptcy system and are perpetrating a fraud on the court. In these cases the bankruptcy court may dismiss the petition without discharging your debts. You will then be subject to eviction and possibly be sued for your back rent and your landlord's attorney's fees and court costs.

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Eviction Notice & Bankruptcy


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Can You Still Rent if You Have Already Filed for Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it relieves you of responsibility for debts you're unable to pay. On the other hand, it's likely to complicate your life for years to come. Your credit score will suffer and lenders may be reluctant to enter into a contract with you. Although it may be difficult for you to qualify for a mortgage for a while, bankruptcy typically doesn't stop you from renting again after your discharge. It won't be quite as easy to find a willing landlord as it was before, but you don't necessarily have to give up your home when you file.

Defaulting on Chapter 13

Chapter 13 is called a wage earner's bankruptcy for a reason -- you need enough disposable income each month after paying your living expenses to fund a repayment plan through the bankruptcy trustee. You must give him your extra money each month for three to five years, and he apportions it among your creditors. In exchange, your property is not subject to liquidation. If you fail to make your payments to the trustee, however, you could find yourself right back in the situation you were in before you filed for bankruptcy protection.

Can Bankruptcy Stop a Writ of Possession?

If a law enforcement officer presents you with a writ of possession, it means that your landlord has won the right to evict you from his property. However, if your landlord is just about to begin the eviction process, filing for bankruptcy can delay or stop eviction. Whether or not bankruptcy will stop a writ of possession depends largely on where your landlord is in the eviction process when you file for bankruptcy.


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