Evictions Becoming an Epidemic in Memphis and Nationwide

As a bankruptcy lawyer in Memphis, eviction is one of the saddest things I see. And it’s happening at alarming rates across the Mid-South and the rest of the country.

As Matthew Desmond, author of the new book Evicted, told the New York Times:

The movers “can be out from 8 a.m. until sundown. You see one eviction and you’re overcome, but then there’s another one and another one and another one.”

I feel for landlords who desperately need the rent checks. It’s a terrible situation for everyone involved. But to watch a child’s bed and toys stacked up heartlessly on the side of the road is too tragic for words. And there was a time it could be easily stopped.

I remember 35 years ago, when I first started handling bankruptcy cases, you could run to the house and hand the sheriff your client’s file even as the movers were taking out the living room furniture. It was a rush, and we were able to prevent a lot of evictions that way. 

Recent laws have made it a little more complicated, but bankruptcy can still definitely stop an eviction.


How to Stop an Eviction by Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy puts an automatic stay on collection orders against you, which means it has the power to stop an eviction instantly.

But with the new laws in place, you’ll want to move fast:

In TN, evictions are made legal once a judge signs something called a Forcible Entry and Detainer (FED). This is a short form that outlines who will be evicted, from where, and how much they owe the landlord. It doesn’t take long at all for a landlord to get one of these orders signed. In fact, it usually only takes a few days at the most after they start the process.

So if it looks like you won’t be able to pay your rent, you should start looking at your options immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late:

  1. Some people may be able to cut back in other areas to cover rent.
  2. Talking with your landlord can help, especially if you’re not very far behind.
  3. If you’re already overwhelmed by the debt and know you can’t pay it all back, you should talk with an attorney as soon as possible.


I can help. If you need to prevent an eviction, contact me today. The conversation is free.