Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Violations of the Automatic Stay

If a creditor in your Bucks County bankruptcy continues to harass you, what can be done?

If you are filed, you are protected by the Automatic Stay.  I always like to say that the automatic stay is "sacred" in the bankruptcy code as it provides one of the main benefits of filing for a Bucks County bankruptcy -- you can be free of creditor harassment.

If however, an individual is injured by a willful violation of the automatic stay, they may recover actual damages, including costs and attorney's fees, from the creditor who violated the stay.  There is also potential for punitive damages when appropriate.

Under Section 362(h) of the bankruptcy code, damages may be recovered if the creditor knew of the stay and its actions were intentional.  Frequently, this is proven by showing the creditor listed on the petition and showing evidence of their continued violations.  Moreover, additional letters from the bankruptcy attorney to the creditor is helpful.

I just had this situation with a person from Feasterville.  He was sued by a creditor who was definitely listed on the bankruptcy petition.  I wrote a short, terse, and scary letter to the attorney representing the creditor.  In rapid fashion, the attorney withdrew the suit.  Why was the suit withdrawn so quickly?  Because the attorney knew the power of the automatic stay.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Eviction and Bankruptcy, Part 3

We have previously blogged about eviction and bankruptcy here and here.

There is a big exception to our previous posts -- even if you cure your deficiency and post the one month rent with the bankruptcy court as we discussed in Part 2, you may still not prevail if your eviction was based on the endangerment of the property or the illegal use of controlled substances on the property.  The landlord/lessor would have to file with the court and serve the Bucks County Bankruptcy lawyer a sworn certification stating that the eviction action was due to one of the aforementioned exceptions.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Eviction and Bankruptcy, Part 2

Previously, we spoke about the limited effect of a bankruptcy if a landlord has obtained a judgment in Bucks County.

But, there are potential fixes.  The Bucks County renter can keep the automatic stay in effect for 30 days (meaning -- not get evicted) IF, pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 362(l)(1), the debtor files with the bankruptcy petition and serves on the landlord a sworn certification under non-bankruptcy law that the debtor is permitted to cure the default that gave rise to the eviction AND by depositing with the clerk of the bankruptcy court a month of rent.

If, during the 30 day period, the debtor cures the entire default, then the automatic stay will be permanently reinstated unless the landlord objects.  If the landlord objects, a hearing will be held on the reinstatement of the stay within 10 days.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Eviction and Bankruptcy, Part 1

If a person in Bucks County files for bankruptcy and they are facing an eviction, they must first determine in if the lessor (i.e. landlord) has obtained a judgment of possession against the debtor prior to the filing of the bankruptcy case.

If a judgment has occurred, then the automatic stay does not stay/stop the continuation of an eviction or similar action for nonpayment of rent.  See 11 U.S.C. 362(b)(22).

BUT!  There are potential fixes.  In our next blog post, we will discuss potential strategies.