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Bankruptcy and Eviction FAQs: What Landlords and Tenants Must Know


If you are a tenant facing eviction, you can use bankruptcy to temporarily “stop” or stay eviction proceedings. You can also get debt such as credit card debt and medical bills discharged, and in certain circumstances pay off past-due rent over time and stay in your rental property.

If you are a landlord whose tenant filed bankruptcy, you have certain rights in your property and this article will explain them. You do not have to provide free housing to a tenant who is protected from eviction by bankruptcy.

At The Law Offices of David M. Offen, our bankruptcy lawyers have helped thousands of tenants exercise their rights in chapter 7 bankruptcy in Philadelphia. Contact us to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation to find out all of your rights today.

1. Does bankruptcy protect you from eviction?

Yes, bankruptcy can stop eviction, temporarily. If you’ve received a Notice to Vacate, we can help you file bankruptcy. The automatic stay in bankruptcy stops eviction proceedings temporarily, buying you some time to plan your next move, whether it is to find somewhere else to live and save up for that, or, pay back your landlord or strike some other deal with your landlord to remain where you are.

2. If I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, can I still be evicted?

Yes, eventually, if you continue to fail to pay rent. The automatic stay provides a temporary stay of eviction but when your Chapter 7 case closes in four to six months, your landlord can re-commence eviction proceedings.

3. If I want to stay in my home, can bankruptcy help me?

Yes. Filing either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy will temporarily stop eviction proceedings. Filing Chapter 13 gives you the opportunity to pay past-due rent to your landlord through your 3- or 5-year plan. If you have steady income and can afford to do that, you may be able to stay in your home. During your free consultation, we will help you figure out if you can afford that.

4. Do bankruptcies remove evictions?

No. If you have already been evicted for failure to pay rent, that will remain on your credit report if your landlord reported the debt to the credit agencies. What a bankruptcy can do for you is to discharge any past-due rent you owe, so if you plan on moving and just need a little time to get things together, call us at (215) 625-9600 and we can help you file and get a fresh start.

5. I filed bankruptcy to stop eviction but my landlord filed a stay relief motion. What can I do?

Your options depend upon whether you filed under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. If you filed under Chapter 7, your only option is to pay your landlord and if you cannot, the court will likely grant your landlord stay relief so that they can recommence eviction proceedings. If you filed under Chapter 13 and are making plan payments and paying rent to your landlord every post-petition month, your landlord must think there are still grounds to evict you. Are you damaging the property? What other argument can the landlord make to the court that you must be removed from the property?

If you are facing a stay relief motion, don’t face it alone. Contact us and we will help you explore your options for remaining in your home.

6. I’m a landlord and I filed an eviction action against my tenant. Does filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy stop eviction?

Yes, temporarily. If your tenant has filed Chapter 7, the automatic stay will be in place during his or her case, which will last 4-6 months. The automatic stay stops eviction and any collection efforts against your tenant, so your eviction proceeding will be on hold.

7. There is a stay of eviction because my tenant filed bankruptcy. What can I do about it?

A Landlord can file a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay, which asks the court to lift the stay as to your eviction action and allow it to proceed. The court may be persuaded to lift the stay if your tenant is very far behind in rent and/or is damaging your property.

We have helped many Pennsylvania clients to make arrangements with their landlord. Give us a call at (215) 625-9600 and we can get started right away with helping you.

8. My tenant filed Chapter 13 and I received notice that I’m to be paid through the plan. What does that mean?

If your tenant owes you rent and filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, he or she intends to pay you that past-due rent over the course of their Chapter 13 plan. This means that during the three to five year plan,  you will regularly get a check from the Chapter 13 trustee. This also means that your tenant must make each post-petition rent payment to you timely and in full.

9. My tenant filed Chapter 13 to pay past-due rent, but I want that tenant out. What can I do?

Many landlords wind up in this situation in PA.  They file an Objection to the Plan and cite reasons the plan is unacceptable. It may be that the plan the debtor proposed will not pay you enough through the plan, or, it may be that you object to the tenant staying in the property because they are causing damage.

In any case, the window of time the landlord has to file an objection once the debtor proposes a plan is very brief, so the Landlord must act quickly as soon as he or she receives notice of debtor’s proposed plan.

10. My tenant filed Chapter 13 but is not paying rent. What can I do?

Again, the Landlord can ask the Court to get out of the Bankruptcy.  They file a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay for nonpayment of rent. This will force the tenant to either pay or modify their plan to include those recently-missed payments. If they can’t do either, you will be granted stay relief and can commence eviction proceedings in state court.

In Pennsylvania, both landlords and tenants have rights in bankruptcy when rental property and eviction actions are involved. You need an experienced bankruptcy attorney by your side to help you exercise those rights. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

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