How do I find out if someone has filed for bankruptcy? Hypothetically, if a landlord demanded payment or threatened to take a tenant to small claims court, and tenant said, “Go ahead, we’re filing for bankruptcy”, how would the landlord find out if the tenant has actually filed or was in the process of filing?
I located a website that offers a service that seems like it would be good to add to our current screening process (which does a credit check and criminal background screen). They claim to provide the following information:
Up-to-date contact information and address history
Relatives, household members, and neighbors
Nationwide criminal check and offenses
Bankruptcies, liens, and judgments
Age and DOB
Property and real estate records
Business ownership and professional listings
It costs $40 a year, but after being burned twice in one year, it’s information I would gladly pay to have up front. In trying to search local court records, it appears I have to pay someone to actually get the records. If the tenants are to be believed (which is questionable) they had already started the bankruptcy process when they moved into our house, but it didn’t turn up on the credit report. At what point and how would we be able to check on that possibility with future applicants?
Thankfully, they are already out, but we were way too trusting and believed their promises to pay (“we’ve cashed in my IRA and are just waiting for the check so we can pay you”) and to move out (“we’ll be out by this Sunday”). I know, I know, you’re laughing at how gullible we are. To be fair, we’ve given other tenants second chances regarding credit (mostly foreclosure situations), and all our other tenants are wonderful. We have learned several lessons at their hands, but would like to know if there’s a way we can find out if new applicants have started the bankruptcy process. It did not show up on their credit report when we screened them. And it wasn’t an idle threat. We are fully prepared to go to small claims court. Unfortunately, Mr. Gilberttribe is on his way to India for 2 weeks, so Mrs. Gilberttribe is going to have to do this on her own. The good news is we have our house back, have cleaned up their filth and are ready to start showing it and finding some GOOD tenants next week.
If they file for bankruptcy, the trustee will notify you as one of the creditors and give you a bankruptcy number. The tenants submit the application, then they get a number and the trustee notifies everyone. If they haven’t called you with a number, they haven’t filed yet.
First, is the tenant still residing in your property? If so, in most states you must take them to housing court about overdue rent, not small claims court. As for checking into the bankruptcy filing, companies like the one you mentioned are usually pretty useful and $40 is a small price to pay for a thorough background check. It seems to me that you are essentially trying to “time” your filing of legal action in order to avoid having your claim included in the tenant’s bankruptcy filing…if that is correct, I would say to you that you are unlikely to have any ability to control the outcome of this situation because you can’t know at what stage of the bankruptcy process the tenant is in unless they have already completed the process, only after it is discharged will it come up on any public records related to that person that they have filed bankruptcy. If they haven’t yet begun the process or if they’re in the process of filing (a process which can take many, many months), you’ll have no way of knowing that - even if you buy a background check from one of those companies you mentioned. The only thing they can do is tell you is if the bankruptcy filing has been completed, anything other than that and there won’t yet be any record of it.