Monday, September 16, 2013
Help Me Howard: Cannot Evict Tenant
For some people it's a goal to own property and each month collect rent from a tenant. But what do you do if your tenant doesn't pay rent and then blocks you from evicting them by declaring bankruptcy? Can a renter stop an eviction by filing for bankruptcy? It's why one family called Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Armando Santana: "Our house is under a hostage situation and we can't do nothing."
The problem began in April when their tenant quit paying rent. At the same time they let the pool go, boarded up a wall inside and apparently started renting out a room.
Armando Santana: "They keep moving people in there. They are getting paid. What are we supposed to do?"
Iris tried to evict them.
Armando Santana: "So the first eviction we came to the sheriff said they have a unit B. We said, 'What do you mean unit B?"
Their tenant put a B on the front of the house technically, their address was wrong.
Armando Santana: "We went back to court. We spend more money to get an eviction on unit B. Now unit B is gone but unit A pops."
The games continued. On June 17th the police gave the tenants 24 hours to move out.
Iris Canizares: "She ignored that."
Three days later, Armando paid the Sheriff to come evict them.
Iris Canizares: "They came back on the 20th and she showed papers that she filed bankruptcy on the 19th."
This time the tenant had filed for bankruptcy after getting the eviction notice. The deputies again walked away.
Iris Canizares: "I went to the Sheriff and they said they have to wait for the bankruptcy."
Meaning Iris who is paying the mortgage is being blocked from evicting the renter who is not paying the rent
Iris Canizares: "She is playing ... she is playing games."
The costs to go to court, to hire the deputies over and over, the lost rent at least $10,000. Leaving Armando and Iris disgusted with the judicial system that allows this.
Armando Santana: "I haven't seen her stop crying for a very long time. She cant take it anymore."
Well Howard, the tenant stalled the evictions then blocked it by filing for bankruptcy, but can a renter stop their eviction by filing for bankruptcy even though they don't own the property?
Howard Finkelstein: "It may surprise people but a renter can stall an eviction by filing for bankruptcy, that's legal, but they can not do it like it was done in this case. In other words, after they get the eviction notice that will not stop the eviction."
A week after we talked to Iris and Armando, they went back to bankruptcy and state court spending even more money. But on a Friday morning, the deputies arrived to evict the woman and her family. The man she called her husband and a friend loaded trucks. They put their dog in a crate. The woman who kept blocking the eviction came out holding her young child's hand to tell us she was delaying the evictions to save money to rent a new place.
Armando laughed at that excuse since months ago he had offered her $1,900 to move out.
Armando Santana: "Its ridiculous. It doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense."
A hour later, Iris and Armando got to walk into the house. See a wall put up to create an apartment, the place a mess but at least now they have it back.
Armando Santana: "Finally I get a win. How many times do I gotta lose to get a victory."
Patrick Fraser: "Now if you are a renter and you file for bankruptcy to stall the eviction, don't expect to live for free for much longer. Some deputies will still evict you and if they let you stay, it wont be for more than two or three weeks. Bankruptcy is not the long term solution if you cant afford the rent.
A messy situation bankrupted your patience? Wanna evict it? Rent us out. We don't charge, we wont move in and we don't make a mess. Just the kind of help you need.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: email@example.com (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at firstname.lastname@example.org