Can Filing Bankruptcy Stop an Eviction in New York?

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Many clients come to me with crushing credit card debt.  Unsurprisingly, many of these same financially struggling individuals are behind on paying their rents.  Many come to me with the landlord threatening to evict them from their homes.  They desperately want to know if bankruptcy can stop an eviction.

The answer is yes – Bankruptcy can stop evictions.

Just last week, I had a landlord lock one of my bankruptcy clients out of her apartment.  We contacted the landlord.  He still refused to remove the locks.

Later that day, I spoke to the landlord’s attorney.  I told him that if I had to ask the Bankruptcy Judge to issue an order removing the locks, the Judge was going to not only issue the order but slam him and the landlord with large fines for contempt of court.   An hour later, the locks were removed.  The landlord’s attorney begged me not to report the landlord to the Judge.

This is the only instance in 28 years that I ever had even a slight problem with a bankruptcy stopping an eviction by a landlord.

If you are under the threat of eviction, you should seek the advice of a bankruptcy attorney right away.  Your bankruptcy attorney will need time to process the necessary paperwork – so you should not delay.  You should also seek the advice of a landlord / tenant attorney or go to your local housing court and speak to the clerk of the court to find out about your rights.

Filing bankruptcy can stop an eviction cold.  It is also true, that the landlord can get permission from the bankruptcy court to go back to housing court and start the eviction proceeding all over again.  But, generally speaking, this takes months and gives our clients some breathing room.

After the bankruptcy, if you can work out a deal with the landlord, you could potentially keep your apartment.  If you end up moving, the bankruptcy will eliminate all the past due rent so you won’t ever have to pay it.