Although filing for bankruptcy can solve many of the issues you are dealing with, ease your stress level, and give you a chance to breathe, it cannot remove all of your worries. If you are contemplating filing for bankruptcy, you are probably overwhelmed with debt that you can’t repay while dealing with creditors. Many people in your situation are also behind on their rent and concerned about being evicted.
How does filing for bankruptcy affect a possible eviction? There is good news and bad news.
The good news:
Filing for bankruptcy can buy you a little time as you attempt to stay in your home or find somewhere else to live.
The bad news:
You will not be able to stay where you are indefinitely. Even when we use bankruptcy to cure arrears on a lease, there is no way to force a landlord to renew a lease at the end of its term.
- Despite your best efforts, you have been unable to pay your rent and find yourself behind. The landlord’s next step is to give you an eviction notice.
- The eviction notice will warn you that you have 10 days in which to pay the rent you owe or face eviction. It doesn’t mean that at the end of 10 days, the landlord can force you out of your home. It just means that he or she will proceed to the next step if you haven’t paid.
How you will receive the 10-day eviction notice:
- The landlord or his representative will present the notice to you directly if possible. If not, the eviction notice can be taped to your door or left in a conspicuous place.
- The notice must include the information set out in Indiana Code 32-31-1-7 Section 7.
What you should do:
- If you can pay the rent or come to an agreement with the landlord to pay everything you owe by a certain date or to leave on a certain date, do so.
- Make sure that you have a signed agreement laying out all of the specifics.
- If working things out with the landlord is impossible and you are already considering filing for bankruptcy, now is the time to do so.
Consult a bankruptcy attorney as soon as possible because if you wait past the 10 days, things get much more difficult.
- At the end of the 10 days, the landlord will go to court to file the formal paperwork to evict you.
- You will receive a copy of this paperwork and will have to attend a hearing with a judge. If the judge approves the eviction (and if you owe rent, there is no reason to oppose it), the judge will issue an eviction judgment or judgment of possession.
- He or she will fix a date for you to move out.
- The judge will give the landlord a court order for eviction to use if you don’t move out by or on the agreed-upon date.
- A sheriff will oversee your removal from the property. This could happen in a week, several weeks, or even months, depending on how busy the court backlog is, but the amount of rent you owe will continue to accumulate as you wait.
- If you file for bankruptcy after the eviction judgment, you are out of luck and can still be evicted, which is why you should consult a bankruptcy attorney as soon as you receive your initial 10-day eviction notice, if not before.
- If you do file for bankruptcy before the judgement evicting you is entered, an automatic stay will be put in place. This will prevent your creditors from harassing you and pursuing collection lawsuits; it will also prevent your landlord from evicting you immediately.
Again, there is good news and bad news about this automatic stay.
The good news:
- Without being hounded to pay all of your other bills and with the prospect of them being discharged in the future, you may be able to have enough money to pay the rent you owe and avoid the eviction problem.
- Another possible scenario is that you find another place to live and move out without being evicted. If you have filed for bankruptcy, all of the back rent that you owe (up until the point that you filed) will be discharged with the rest of your debt and will be removed from your credit report in 7-10 years, depending on the type of bankruptcy you file.
The bad news:
- An automatic stay is not a permanent miracle — it is simply a pause to let you catch your breath. Your landlord can file a motion to lift the automatic stay, and it will probably be granted. You can then be evicted in state court.
- In Indiana, 23,332 people filed for bankruptcy, and many of them were able to avoid being evicted from their homes. On the other hand, Indianapolis has the second-highest eviction rate in the nation, according to a 2019 Princeton study. Don’t try to maneuver your way through the intricacies of eviction and bankruptcy laws and procedures on your own.
- For information about evictions from your house, read our blog, Covid 19, Evictions, and Mortgage Moratoriums.
At Sawin & Shea, LLC, we understand that hiring an attorney to help you file bankruptcy is scary. We are committed to providing compassionate and non-judgmental representation to all of our clients. Our attorneys have helped thousands of people just like you get the fresh start they deserve. We are here to help.