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Landlords could face lawsuits in bankruptcy collections attempts

Landlords who make an attempt at taking possession of a rented location should be careful if the tenant has filed bankruptcy, says one report. According to the story, landlords who threaten to evict tenants while attempting to make payment collections could face lawsuits for both punitive damages and emotional distress. This report comes after a Third Circuit Court of Appeals awarded both to tenants whose landlord had violated the automatic stay of bankruptcy. While this case was in another state, similar cases are heard each year in Florida.

The lawsuit featured a day care center that was operated out of a leased location. After the tenants fell behind, the landlord made several attempts to collect and harassed the tenants on several occasions. In fact, the landlord and his lawyer showed up once during business hours to photograph the personal property of the tenants. The tenants had, however, already filed bankruptcy. 

The landlord also allegedly backed one tenant against a wall, intimidating her. There were two other occasions in which the landlord harassed the tenants. He put padlocks and chains on the doors and sent threatening letters. He even mailed letters to the tenants' new landlord. The tenants were awarded both monetary and emotional damages.

When a tenant files for bankruptcy relief, his or her landlord has to be careful in how attempts at collections are made. In Florida and other states, the bankruptcy code authorizes awarding emotional distress damages in such cases. If anyone is considering bankruptcy, a bankruptcy attorney can help explain the process as well as the rights of the client concerning evictions and collection attempts by the landlord.

Source: jdsupra.com, "Landlords Who Violate Bankruptcy Stay May be Ordered to Pay Emotional Distress Damages and Punitive Damages", PretiFlaherty, May 2, 2017

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