10 Things Your Landlord Won’t Tell You

November 30, 2010  |  

(Smart Money) — 1. “This building is in foreclosure.”  In late 2009, Melody Thompson called her landlords to ask about the well-dressed picture-takers outside her four-bedroom Portland rental home. “Oh, we’re refinancing,” she remembers them telling her. Then in late April, a formal bank notification arrived in the mail, stating that the home was in foreclosure and would be put up for sale in late August. “I was immediately angry,” says Thompson, the executive director of Financial Beginnings, a financial literacy nonprofit. “They lied.” The sale has been postponed twice as the landlords apply for a mortgage adjustment, but Thompson is still hunting for a new place.

Renters accounted for 40% of families facing eviction from foreclosure in 2009, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. And unfortunately, they often hear about it as Thompson did — from the bank, just weeks before the sale, says Janet Portman, an attorney and the managing editor of legal book publisher Nolo. “The landlord wants the tenant in there, paying rent,” she says. The lack of notice was so pervasive that last year Congress passed the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, which gives tenants at least 90 days from the foreclosure sale to move out. (Previously, they had as few as 30 days, Portman says.) Provided the new owner doesn’t want to live there, the law also lets legitimate tenants — those who signed a lease before the sale and pay a market value rent, among other qualifications — stay through the end of their lease.


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