A renter is looking for a way to delay the inevitable.

2 minute read

I think I’m about to be evicted. I haven’t paid rent since June, because I lost my job. I thought I’d be protected that foreclosure and eviction ban that goes to Dec. 31, but my landlord says that only applies to properties that are FHA-insured or were financed through Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. His apartment building isn’t any of those things.

He’s not a bad guy, and he asked me to pay even just a couple hundred a month to cover his own expenses, but I don’t even have enough to do that. 

So I’m thinking of filing for bankruptcy because I saw on Reddit that it stops evictions dead in their tracks. Before I go believing some anonymous guy on Reddit, I want to ask someone who knows this stuff. If I do this, will I get to stay in my place?

– Andy in Florida

Steve Rhode, The Get Out of Debt Guy, replies…

Yes, Andy, bankruptcy can delay your eviction. But it won’t stop it forever.

When a bankruptcy case begins, it triggers something called an “automatic stay.” Among other things, that stops your landlord from evicting you. If he hasn’t started yet, he can’t proceed. And if he did start, he has to stop. He can’t even collect past rent that’s overdue. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

While you can use bankruptcy as a strategic tool to stop an eviction, I wouldn’t advise counting on it as a permanent solution. The automatic stay is intended to give you breathing room so you can relocate, gather the past due rent payment, or work out a solution with your current landlord. (More on that last option in a minute.)

It’s not intended to be a permanent solution.

State bankruptcy laws might give you additional rights and options to avoid getting kicked out. That’s why it’s so important to find a good local bankruptcy attorney to discuss your situation and come up with a plan of action.

Why? Because your landlord isn’t helpless in this situation. He can fight the automatic stay.

What happens if your landlord fights the automatic stay from bankruptcy?

Here’s what typically happens: Your landlord will request a release from the bankruptcy protection from you being evicted. Depending on what state you live in, your landlord will file a case with the court to get permission to evict you. The court will grant permission and/or judgment granting eviction permission. In that case, the bankruptcy won’t stop it.

Basically, you’re at the mercy of factors you can’t control. And that includes how aggressive your debtors are, and how competent your attorney is.

So, don’t listen to everything you might hear or read that bankruptcy alone will cure your missing rent payments and prevent an eviction. At best, you can count on a bankruptcy filing giving a temporary pause in the eviction, but that’s about all.

Consult with an attorney before you decide to file

Finally, there are the pros and cons of declaring bankruptcy in the first place. Bankruptcy is a powerful tool, and one I’m glad is available to help people get back on their feet. But it’s not fast, simple, or easy. That’s why you need an attorney, patience, and diligence. Declaring bankruptcy just to stop an eviction isn’t why you should pursue it.

Connect with a qualified team so you can decide if it’s time to file.

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About the Author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is known as the ‘Get Out of Debt Guy’ and he has been teaching people how to deal with money problems since the 1990’s. After his own personal bankruptcy, he formed a nonprofit organization to help people get out of debt. Since then, he’s had a syndicated advice column in 50 newspapers across the country and has written three books. He’s appeared on FOX, CNN, ABC, NBC, and MSNBC giving money advice and now he is now an investigative reporter specializing in covering consumer debt and the debt relief world.

Published by Debt.com, LLC