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Tenant bankruptcy and eviction

If you are a rental property owner, you have probably had to evict tenants for non-payment of rent. It’s a process that no one wants to go through as it is complicated and often heartbreaking. The process is rarely orderly and property damage is far too common.

If your tenant has declared bankruptcy, however, it becomes even more complicated. It may take months to fully resolve. When this happens, time is of the essence and experience with bankruptcy and debt collection becomes even more important than ever.

Before or after bankruptcy?

One key element in eviction cases with bankruptcy is timing. If an eviction notice is served before the bankruptcy petition is filed, the tenant has very few rights. Everything proceeds as a regular eviction. It is always important to have the paperwork carefully drafted and submitted in a timely fashion, however, as with any eviction.

If the tenant filed for bankruptcy before the eviction notice was served, there is an automatic stay under the laws of South Carolina and most states. Any eviction has to be approved by the bankruptcy court by lifting the stay. This can take a long time to proceed. It is not uncommon for the eviction to be delayed by months.

Situation dependent

Like all evictions, it will proceed in different ways depending on how everyone cooperates. In a bankruptcy case, the main difference is that the court is now a party to everything. It is important to file quickly and ask for an emergency hearing if the situation justifies it.

In nearly all cases, some negotiation is going to be required to bring the case to a successful conclusion. Diligence is always important, as the bankruptcy court is much more likely to rule favorably for the creditors who are always timely and professional.

Seek consultation

In a situation where a tenant facing eviction has already filed for bankruptcy, consultation with an attorney experienced in credit actions and evictions is absolutely critical. Even landlords with experience conducting evictions are facing a very different situation once the bankruptcy court is involved.

Landlords do have rights, however, and rent incurred during the stay can usually be charged. Since every eviction is unique your representation needs to understand the situation and act quickly to be sure that those rights are protected and a satisfactory conclusion is reached as quickly as possible.

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