What can I do if I am currently going through an eviction for a fire that I accidentally started?

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What can I do if I am currently going through an eviction for a fire that I accidentally started?

The deductible for my landlord’s insurance is $5000. I started paying $50/mo until we could come up with a payment plan. My last offer was $100 because I don’t see myself being able to afford more. They want $250 per month. I also am looking into filing for bankruptcy as I have a lot of other bills and could use wiping the slate clean. I understand they still can evict me, but I don’t know if I have a choice. How likely is it the landlord would evict after filing for bankruptcy? Do I file for bankruptcy before or after court? What am I supposed to explain to a potential new landlord about why I left the last place? How can I negotiate this or ask for a way out?

Asked on May 5, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

1) The landlord *will* evict after you file for bankrupty--or at least every landlord I've worked with would, and landlord-tenant law is my main practice. The filing will temporily--for up to several months--stay, or put a hold on, eviction, but since during that time you'll be falling behind on rent (can't pay it while in bankruptcy) and repaying the damage, it is almost certain the landord will evict at the earliest opportunity.

2) You are probably best off filing after you receive a court summons, but before the court appearance (trial date); that maximizes the benefit you get from the stay in eviction and collection proceedings without running the risk of filing too late (e.g. after the trial date and you've been locked out).

3) Eviction actions are publically reported, and your credit report is also available to a landlord: a new landlord, if he/she looks, can find out that you were evicted and that you filed bankruptcy. Therefore, assume that you have to tell the truth, and just explain what happened, putting as a good a positive "spin" on it as you can while being honest.


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