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Chapter 13, can I reopen to add another issue that has come up recently?

Los Angeles, CA |

I filed ch. 13 in 2009, and I added rental income from my guest house in my plan. Now, my tenant is not paying and I'm in the process to evict her. If she sues me for any reason, can I add that judgment for money to my plan by reopening my bankruptcy? Am I still protected under the plan after almost 3 years?

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Attorney answers 5


The most important date of filing in a bankruptcy case is the date of the filing of the case, called the "Order for Relief." If something happens during a chapter 13 plan, that would lead to the debtor being sued, they are not allowed to "include" that debt in their chapter 13 plan, it is a post-petition debt. In certain circumstances the automatic stay might stall the lawsuit, but with the facts you give us you say the case was already closed. If your tenant sues you for something that happened before the filing date of the bankruptcy in 2009, you might be able to add it to the case, although there are other issues that might come up with that depending on your plan. But it sounds like this probably happened after the bankruptcy filing, and thus reopening the case wouldn't help.

You could, however, likely file another chapter 13 case and pay only a percentage of the debt back, depending on circumstances, if there was a judgment entered against you.

Hope this helps!


If your tenant sues you for something that happened after the bankruptcy was filed, you will have to participate in that suit and face the consequences. Bankruptcy, even Chapter 13, is not a permanent "get out of jail free" card. Hope this perspective helps!


You will be accountable for anything after the bankruptcy was filed. However, you might be able to start a new Chapter 13 if you end up owing any money from the lawsuit.

Your best bet is to seek an attorney familiar with landlord tenant law to explain any liabilities you may incur while attempting to evict the tenant.


It depends on what she sues you for. If the potential claim against you arose prior to the chapter 13, it MAY be includable in the bankruptcy. But there are other issues - such as did the tenant have notice of the bankruptcy and an opportunity to file a claim in your case. However, if - as it appears - the claim against you arose after the bankruptcy filing, it is not includable in your case.

Dorothy G Bunce

Dorothy G Bunce


Hi Sam - good to see you again!


I am assuming that your bankrutpcy is still pending. If has already discharged the answer is not you cannot reopen the case to add a creditor that was not noticed of the bankrutpcy or a creditor with a post-petition claim. If the case is still pending, you have several options depending on the complete and exact facts and circumstances which goes well beyond your question. You should have a bankruptcy attorney that can help you weith the pros and cons of the different options. The options may include converting the case to Chapter 7 where the date of conversion becomes the inclusion date for liabilities rather than the date of filing. However, there may be reasons that you are in a 13 that make this option unpalatble. You can also dismiss the case and refile. Again this may be unpalatble or not depending on the underlying facts. You may try to modify the plan to take into account the new liability reducing the amount that can be paid to the pre-petition creditors. Again, this may not be practical depending on your facts and circumstances and the local culture with your trustee and court.

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