Can I be denied housing or an apartment or another type of residential lease
simply because I filed for bankruptcy?

Yes and No. Let’s talk about “Public Housing” first. This is an easy “NO!” you cannot be denied “Public” (governmental) Housing simply because you filed for bankruptcy. Nor can your Public Housing lease be cancelled because you filed for bankruptcy. The statute that protects your interest is 11 U.S. Code § 525 (Protection against discriminatory treatment) which states that ” a governmental unit may not deny, revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a license, permit, charter, franchise, or other similar grant” and Public Housing falls within this definition.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that prevents a private landlord from “discriminating” against you because of your bankruptcy. On the other hand, there is nothing that prevents a private landlord from leasing to you because of your bankruptcy, and you would do well to point out a number of factors to your potential landlord: (assuming you have some or all of these factors in your corner):

  1. You have a history of always paying your rent on time.
  2. You have never been evicted nor do you have any eviction proceedings on your record (landlords are more spooked by evictions than they are by bankruptcies).
  3. You had to file for bankruptcy because of divorce, death or disability.
  4. You can show you have the necessary income to support your rental payment.
  5. You are willing to increase the amount of your security deposit or pay additional month(s) of rent as additional assurances to the landlord
  6. (If applicable) you have already completed your bankruptcy case, have received your discharge order and are now relatively “debt-free” (If this was a Chapter 7 discharge you can also tell your landlord you are prohibited from refiling for Chapter 7 for another 8 years).

You might want to seek out a private homeowner that has a unit or house to rent. They tend to have less rigid requirements than Apartment Complex managers. On the other hand, Apartment Complex managers tend to be more “seasoned” and may be less “spooked” by a bankruptcy filing provided you can satisfy some of the other factors mentioned.

You also might seek out someone to co-sign the lease with you.

The important “takeaway” here, is that bankruptcy is not a “death knell” to renting. You may have to work a little harder, inject a little more creativity into your hunt and negotiations, but that (with a little luck) and you are likely to find a suitable housing arrangement.


Disclaimer: The Law Offices of Michael E. Zapin is a debt relief agency and we help our clients file for bankruptcy relief.

The materials and discussions on this website are for informational purposes only and not intended to be legal advice to you. Most of the information on this website is based on Florida law. Laws are not static, they are fluid. Legislatures periodically change dollar values in laws relevant to bankruptcy. Though we strive to remain current on the law, always check primary sources for the most recent values or developments.  Laws in your home state may vary. Contact a competent local professional for actual legal advice or ask us for a referral.