The holiday season typically reminds us of time spent with family, holiday traditions, shopping for the perfect gift, and get-togethers with friends. Unfortunately, the pandemic is changing the way that we celebrate our holidays – and is having an even bigger impact on those who are facing eviction. After months of shut-downs, joblessness, and reduced incomes, people across the nation are afraid that they may find themselves homeless during Christmas or at the start of the new year. Thankfully, there is hope for those who are behind on their rent payments and a chance to keep their homes over the holiday season.
How Bankruptcy Helps
Nearly 12 million renters will owe an average of $5,850 in back rent and utilities by January, Moody’s Analytics warns. When someone gets significantly behind on their rent payments, the landlord has the option to evict them and kick them off their property. While some government mandates stopped evictions over the summer and fall months, most of these have now expired, leaving countless people still behind on their payments and at risk of losing their homes. When someone files a bankruptcy, the eviction can be temporarily stopped and a “stay in place” issued while the bankruptcy is processed.
What to Do During the Stay in Place
During a bankruptcy, tenants can enjoy several months of home security. Throughout this “stay in place”, tenants have the option to catch up on rent payments, additional time to make deals with their landlords so that they can work out a repayment plan, or find somewhere else to live. If you are issued a “stay in place”, remember that you should continue to pay as much as possible, be respectful to your landlord, and take good care of the property to avoid incurring additional fees after the bankruptcy.
A Bankruptcy May Not Solve Every Problem
Depending on the type of bankruptcy that a tenant pursues, the landlord may still have the option to take them to court under a “Stay Relief” motion. While the outcome of the motion depends on the specific case, those filing Chapter 7 bankruptcies are the most likely to be forced to pay or leave. Tenants who are filing Chapter 13 will usually be able to maintain their home – unless they are damaging the property.
The Holidays and Bankruptcy
No one wants to go through bankruptcy and, during the holiday season, the idea may seem even less pleasant. Regardless of your preconceived notions about what a bankruptcy means, a bankruptcy is truly one of the best financial tools for those struggling financially. Hundreds of thousands of individuals file each year, with the pandemic causing these numbers to rise and changing societal views of bankruptcy to be more neutral. There is no longer shame in pursuing a bankruptcy, just financial relief. If you are behind on rent, facing eviction, and financially unstable then bankruptcy is the best option for you. By pursuing a bankruptcy, you can secure your home through the holiday season and try to make your Christmas as normal as possible.
How a Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
Before you decide to file bankruptcy, it’s important to talk to an experienced attorney who can look at your case, explore your possibilities, and show you the best option to pursue. While a Chapter 7 bankruptcy erases debt entirely, those who file are still at risk of eviction. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a way that families can have their debt refinanced into more manageable payments while they remain in their homes.
If you’re afraid that the holidays may find you without a home, it’s time to talk to an attorney. Our team is prepared to offer you sound legal advice and help you start the process toward ensuring that you have a place to stay this holiday season.