How Will Subchapter 5 of the Bankruptcy Code Impact Landlords?

Landlords need to educate themselves about the new Subchapter 5 bankruptcy rules as a precedent-setting case plays out in Texas.

Recent revisions to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code might open the door to headaches and heartaches for landlords that rent to small businesses.

In August 2019, Congress created what’s known as Subchapter 5 of the Bankruptcy Code. Subchapter 5 is designed to streamline the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process for small businesses and slash their legal bills, according to Robert Dremluk, a partner in the New York City office of law firm Culhane Meadows Haughian & Walsh PLLC who specializes in bankruptcy cases.

Subchapter 5 went into effect this February. A month later, Congress tweaked Subchapter 5 as part of the federal CARES Act, aimed at helping the U.S. recover from the coronavirus pandemic. A major change in Subchapter 5 that will be on the books till next spring raises the cap on secured and unsecured debts for a small business to qualify for Chapter 11. The threshold jumped from a little over $2.7 million to $7.5 million. “The idea was to create an easier path for companies to reorganize,” Dremluk says.

Legal observers say the re-engineered Subchapter 5 could invite even more small businesses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization and, therefore, entangle more landlords in bankruptcy proceedings.

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