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cfortunato
cfortunato, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Satisfied Customers: 8023
Experience:  Bankruptcy professor.
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I am a landlord owed money from a tenant which abruptly vacated

Customer Question

I am a landlord owed money from a tenant which abruptly vacated (a neighbor had said they bought a house). I immediately took them to court and after 9 months have worked ourselves up to a trial. Although they admitted to the debt they wanted to take it to trail in hopes of a reduced judgement. Two weeks before the trial we got a letter notifying us they are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. We wrote to the courthouse requesting a delay in our case so our judgement would be after their bankruptcy, and hopefully not permissable within bankruptcy case. The court said the date was to close and couldn't be changed. The bankruptcy notice offered a Meeting of Creditors. Is it worth attending this meeting or is it a waste of our time? Are we out the back rent/repairs now that the bankruptcy will erase the judgement we intend to have against them? Is there any recourse or anything we should know to be able to collect the money due us? Their action causes a financial hardship for us.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Bankruptcy Law
Expert:  cfortunato replied 6 years ago.
Hi JACustomer,
Do the tenants owe rent or do they owe money for repairs, or both?
If it is for rent, what is the basis for the owed rent (eg. rent not paid, left before the lease expired, etc.)?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
They left before the lease expired, also without proper notice. They didn't pay their rent on the first of the month and moved out around the eighth. They had about nine month remaining on their lease as well as a 60 day notice requirement to leave. They knew they were liable until we found a replacement. Fortunately we found someone for the first of the following month. They also had done about a $1000. in damages. They did have a security deposit but that only covers half of what is owed ( one months rent & damages). We now have accued court costs on top of it all.
Expert:  cfortunato replied 6 years ago.
There is some hope for you. If you can prove that the debt owed by this tenant(s) was incurred under false pretenses, the debt will not be discharged, and you can get your judgment. This is per Bankruptcy Statutes section 523(2)(A) Exceptions to Discharge.
False pretenses can be proved if the debtors knew at the time the debt was incurred that they were not going to pay it. In other words, if the reason they did not give you the rent at the beginning of the month was because they knew they were leaving, and would therefore not pay you, then this is considered to be false pretenses. The same applies to the repairs. If it can be shown that they did the damage, and knew at the time that they would not pay for it, it is false pretenses.
To assert your claim that this debt (rent and damage to apartment) was incurred under false pretenses, you should go to the creditors' meeting with all the information you have to prove your case.


Edited by Christina Fortunato, Esq. on 5/4/2010 at 8:01 PM EST
Expert:  cfortunato replied 6 years ago.
There is some hope for you. If you can prove that the debt owed by this tenant(s) was incurred under false pretenses, the debt will not be discharged, and you can get your judgment. This is per Bankruptcy Statutes section 523(2)(A) Exceptions to Discharge.
False pretenses can be proved if the debtors knew at the time the debt was incurred that they were not going to pay it. In other words, if the reason they did not give you the rent at the beginning of the month was because they knew they were leaving, and would therefore not pay you, then this is considered to be false pretenses. The same applies to the repairs. If it can be shown that they did the damage, and knew at the time that they would not pay for it, it is false pretenses.
To assert your claim that this debt (rent and damage to apartment) was incurred under false pretenses, you should go to the creditors' meeting with all the information you have to prove your case.