J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization

In a recent chapter 13 bankruptcy case out of the Houston Division of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, Bankruptcy Judge Letitia Paul gave a debtor a chance, by imposing the stay on all of the debtor's creditors when there was no stay.

The debtor had had two prior bankruptcies that were dismissed in the same year, and in such a case there is no protection from your creditors when you file the 3rd case, unless you file a motion and prove that you are entitled to a stay in court. Anyway, this debtor had succeeded in doing that. In re Norris, Case No. 13-36681, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, SD Texas, Houston Division.

But after that, the debtor's landlord filed a Motion for Relief from Stay, asking the court to lift the stay so that they could evict the debtor. He had not paid rent in over 6 months.

The court lifted the stay, finding that he had not offered "adequate protection" (presumably rent payments) to protect the landlord's interest. In re Norris, Bankr. Court, SD Texas 2014.

The court also found that there was cause to lift the stay, because the debtor could not afford the rent. He had filed a "Pauper's Affidavit" in state court swearing that he only made $700 per month, when the rental payments were $750. So he could not possibly afford to pay the rent.

Do you think the judge did the right thing? What more can you do for folks that are behind on rent, and can't pay? Should the judge have done something else? Please share your comments below.

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