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Commercial Tenant destroyed my property, can (should) I file criminal charges?

Chattanooga, TN |

My Commercial tenant walked out owing a large amount of back – rent. He signed his restaurant equipment as security for this back rent. But when he left, he filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy within 90 days of the filing of the lien on the equipment, which means I will not get the equipment. However, after he left, inspection of the premises showed major neglect and damage, to the building. So far the damages have come to around $100,000.00. Can I file criminal charges against the tenant, and if he is found guilty, what would likely be the outcome? Considering his bankruptcy , would it be worth hiring an attorney? What other options do I have in this situation?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    First, as far as the criminal issues, you can certainly contact the police about charges but what evidence do you have of intentional vandalism, not just neglect? Would it lead to you getting any money, or waste your time? For the Bankruptcy, certainly you need a lawyer for $100,000+ in damages and there are pretty short deadlines for such things as contesting his discharge (as a whole, or for your debt). When that time expires, you are out of luck forever. Of course, as mentioned, hopefully you have insurance to cover this and they may take over your position in the BR case.


  2. Your commercial insurance would be your most immediate form of compensation. In a federal BK the bankrupt is required to disclose ALL debts (including yours) so it may not be too late. I recommend you speak with a Bankruptcy attorney to see if you can still submit your claim and supporting paperwork. Good Luck.


  3. Contact local law enforcement. They will decide if criminal charges are warranted.