Renting an Apartment in Florida After Bankruptcy

Renting Florida Apartment after Bankruptcy

A common question is whether filing bankruptcy in Florida will affect renting an apartment or house, In the thirty years that I have practiced bankruptcy law, representing debtors, I have never been reported an instance in which a person or persons were denied leasing or renting an apartment or house because of the filing of a bankruptcy.

Schedule G of any bankruptcy petition questions whether the debtor or bankruptcy filer has any unexpired leases. The petition should disclose any such leases including the lease of a residential dwelling. The debtor should indicate in the bankruptcy petition whether he or she intends to assume of reject the lease. In various jurisdictions, if the intent is to assume the lease, it may be advisable to file a motion to assume the lease. From my observations, as a practical matter, if the debtor does not file such a motion, the lessor, or landlord will continue to honor the lease, provided the debtor remains current on his or her lease payments.

Some lease applications question whether the applicant has filed bankruptcy. My experience is some lessors are concerned not so much whether the debtor filed bankruptcy but whether the debtor is in an active bankruptcy, and in particular, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, the lessor’s concerns may be satisfied by explaining that any debtor incurred after the filing of the bankruptcy is generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

The primary concerns of lessors is not that the applicant has filed bankruptcy, but other factors such as whether the applicant has ever, or recently suffered an eviction, or whether the applicant has a criminal record. The filing of the bankruptcy, and especially the receipt of a Discharge in bankruptcy may make the applicant more attractive, as such Discharge generally indicates that the debtor or applicant has an improved debt to income ratio, meaning such applicant has more disposable income to make the rental or lease payments.

It is advisable that any applicant that has matters that may concern the lessor or landlord to address those issues at the beginning of the application process. Even an eviction may have an explanation that indicates the applicant or lessee has not committed a wrongdoing worthy of such remark or history on one’s credit report or other reporting method. Also, it is important how one presents oneself in the application process. This means not only presenting oneself with a clean physical appearance but also behaving in a polite and courteous manner.

There is no law that prevents a lessor from leasing an apartment or other residence to an applicant because the debtor or applicant filed a bankruptcy. There is no law that mandates a lessor lease such residence despite the bankruptcy filing. However, as stated above, other factors are of greater concern to the lessor in making such decisions.

I have witnessed circumstances where the lessor demanded an additional security, such as the pre-payment of rents due to the bankruptcy filing. However, such circumstances in my experience are rare, according to my observations.

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