Saint Paul is one of the greatest cities in the world in which to live. I know I may be biased due to the fact that I was born here, and now live here again, but I strongly believe any objective out-of-towner who relocates here would agree! Just because the city Saint Paul itself is a great place to live doesn’t mean that one’s particular apartment here is the best place in which to live. Sometimes, people simply find themselves stuck in a bad lease they wish they could do anything to get out of. There is one solution to this problem. You can file for bankruptcy (never saw that one coming, huh?).
Although filing for bankruptcy solely because one is in a less-than-favorable rental lease is probably not a good idea, when a person has lots of other debts that they can no longer afford to pay, the ability to use bankruptcy to get out of a bad lease, in addition to get rid of those other debts, is a great added perk! A lease is a legal contract in which you agree to pay rent to a landlord in exchange for your right to live on the landlords’ premises. The beauty of bankruptcy is that it gives people the option of either keeping any existing contracts they may have at the time they file their bankruptcy case (i.e. “assuming” the contract), or to get out of any such existing contracts (“rejecting” the contract). When a person files for bankruptcy they list whether they intend to assume or reject their rental lease.
If a person chooses to assume their lease, they are responsible for continuing to make their rental payments going forward in order to continue residing on the premises just the same as if they had not filed for bankruptcy. They are bound for the entire reminder of their lease. If a person rejects their rental lease, they can simply stop paying and move out of the apartment. They are not obligated to complete their lease agreement with the landlord. Regardless of whether a person decides to assume or reject a rental lease, their bankruptcy discharge will wipe out any past-due rent that they incur prior to filing their bankruptcy case, but will not get rid of their obligation to pay any unpaid rent that is incurred after their case is filed.
It is important to understand that although filing for bankruptcy can temporarily delay a landlord’s attempt to evict a person for unpaid rent, it cannot ultimately stop a landlord from evicting a tenant for past-due rent. If a landlord gets a court order of eviction before a person files a bankruptcy case, the landlord may go ahead and proceed with the eviction despite the bankruptcy. However, if such an order is not obtained by the landlord prior to the bankruptcy case being filed, the landlord cannot proceed with the eviction due to the bankruptcy court’s automatic stay, which protects debtors (people who file for bankruptcy) from the collection efforts taken by their creditors while their bankruptcy case is ongoing. In these circumstances, the landlord must first file a motion asking the court to “lift” the automatic stay and allow them to proceed with the eviction. If the person is really behind on payments, the court will likely grant the motion and allow to the landlord to go forward with the eviction. A person who owes past-due rent before filing bankruptcy and wishing to assume their rental lease should be prepared to work with the landlord to negotiate some kind of payment plan for the past-due debt to avoid ultimately being evicted. A good bankruptcy attorney can assist with these negotiations.
The ability of the debtor to assume or reject contracts extends to all types of contracts, not just rental leases. The debtor has the ability to keep or get out of car leases and loans, upside-down mortgages, cell phone or internet contracts, and even, timeshare agreements! Basically, bankruptcy allows people stuck in almost any kind of bad contract to get out of the contract, which is consistent with bankruptcy law’s objective for debtor’s to get a “fresh start.”
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LifeBack Law, P.A. is happy to help people who live in Saint Paul, as well the rest of Minnesota, get that fresh start that they need. We now have an office located at 370 Selby Ave., Suite 224, Saint Paul Minnesota 55102. Come visit us there or at Lifebacklaw.com!