In Indiana if you fall behind on your rent you will typically receive a lawsuit and summons delivered by the sheriff’s department assigning you a date for a hearing in small claims court. The hearing is typically called a possession hearing. At that hearing the judge will decide whether there is a reason that the landlord should be able to take the property back, or have possession of the property. Unless you are able to work out your problem with the landlord or the judge sides with you at the hearing (which is not likely if you are behind on your rent) then you will probably only be given 7 days at most to find a new place to live.
Brace yourself…..because what I am about to say is harsh. But it is also the truth, so I think it needs to be said. Many clients I meet with at Halcomb Singler tell me that they can’t get evicted because they don’t have anywhere to go, that they have children, that they don’t have enough money for a deposit, that they are going to have a hard time getting anyone to rent to them because of the eviction and 1,000 other reasons they can’t move. The truth is that the judge probably won’t care about any of these reasons. It’s not because the judge is a heartless person or because the judge has any issues with you. It is because under the law the judge cannot care.
But all hope should not be lost just because you get notice of an eviction possession hearing. The worst thing that you can do is ignore it. This is a problem that I can assure you will not go away. If you ignore it then the hearing will happen anyway and eventually the sheriff’s department will come out to your rental and supervise you moving your property out. This is not a good ending.
If you receive the notice of the hearing here’s what you should do. First, if you have the money to get current….do it. Call the attorney who filed the lawsuit and ask how much you owe, where it needs to be paid, and whether it needs to be done in certified funds. If the attorney agrees to dismiss the lawsuit if you pay the difference then move forward and do what it takes (get a second job, cancel cable, cancel internet, get a third job, don’t eat out….ever, etc.) If you can’t make the full amount of the rent call the attorney to see if you are able to make an acceptable arrangement to get current on the rent. If that doesn’t work then you might want to call an attorney.
If you have a lot of other debts that you owe on top of the rent and those debts are causing your hardship in paying your rent then it might make sense to call a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney might be able to get your possession hearing cancelled in the short-term, giving you an opportunity to catch up your rent and also to discharge all of the other debts in bankruptcy that are causing your inability to keep your rent current. The amount of other debt you need in order to justify filing bankruptcy in Indiana is relative. Bankruptcy law does not dictate a minimum amount of debt to file, but unless there is a very good reason I do not typically file bankruptcy for anyone who owes less than $10,000.00. I do recall filing a bankruptcy petition for someone who owed $8,500.00 once, but that person made very little money so $8,500.00 was an insurmountable amount.
It is important not to wait until after the possession hearing to contact a bankruptcy attorney. This is true because after the possession hearing the automatic stay that typically prevents creditors, including landlords, from attempting to collect will allow a landlord to continue eviction proceedings to get their house or apartment back after the entry of a possession order by the Court. On the other hand, even if a small claims eviction lawsuit has been filed a landlord will not be able to kick you out of your house or apartment in the event you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy prior to the entry of an eviction order.
Halcomb Singler, LLP, is a debt relief agency. It helps people file for bankruptcy under the bankruptcy code. No attorney-client relationship with the firm of Halcomb Singler, LLP, is created through this blog. Also, please note that Erika Singler is an attorney licensed in Indiana and does not seek to practice law in any jurisdiction in which they are not properly authorized to do so. The information contained in this blog is general in nature and should not be relied upon for the circumstances of any individual(s) or businesses.