There are few things more worrisome than the possibility of being without a home. If it's been several months since you last paid your rent, being evicted is a real possibility. While it's always best to act quickly if your financial situation gets out of control, you may be able to stop an eviction depending on how far along in the process things have evolved. Read on to learn more about how a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing could affect your rights to stay in your rental home.
Using the automatic stay: If there was ever a powerful weapon against things like eviction, it's the automatic stay. Once you file your chapter 7 in federal court, your landlord and everyone else you owe money to are informed. This means no more phone calls or letters from bill collectors and no more having to pay your credit card bills. The issue of staying in your home, however, is a bit more complicated.
If you have been threatened with eviction, but no papers have been filed: This is the best case scenario, and a good reason to file for bankruptcy sooner rather than later. If your landlord's actions have stopped short of an official filing with courts, you may earn a temporary reprieve against being put out on the streets. You should be cautioned, however, that any time you are given should be used to catch up on your back rent payments, which is a lot easier to do when you don't have those big credit card minimums to meet each month. In some cases, unless you get your rent caught up, the landlord may be able to file a motion to proceed with an eviction.
If you have been threatened with an eviction, and the landlord made it to the courts before you: If you were second in line filing your own paperwork for bankruptcy, you may need to find another place to live. Your options here depend on the state in which you live, so speak to your bankruptcy attorney to learn more. For example, some states have provisions that allow debtors to "cure" the debt by making good on arrears payments during bankruptcy.
Eviction for other reasons: The above information should be applied only to cases where you are being evicted due to being behind on your rent. Take a look at your lease and you may note several issues that could have you evicted that have nothing to do with finances, and upon which your bankruptcy filing has absolutely no effect. For example, if your landlord has found a violation of your lease such as criminal activity, unauthorized people living with you, subleasing, drug use, noise problems, or any number of other bad behaviors on your part, you can still be evicted.
Speak to an attorney like Clinger Richard S to learn more.