Thursday, October 16, 2008
More fall-out from the bursting of the housing bubble comes in this report about renters being evicted from their homes because the owner has decided to mail the keys back to the bank or otherwise renege on their obligation.
According to RealtyTrac, about one-third of the almost 400,000 homes now either in default or awaiting foreclosure are not occupied by the owner, meaning that a lot of renters are being affected.
A number of stories have been sent my way on this subject and it is just one more sign of the times that renters have to be equally cautious about their landlord as the other way around.
For example, renting a house today from a twitchy 35-year in one of California's many foreclosure hotspots would probably get you only about 50-50 odds of making it through the end of a one-year lease without getting an unwelcome knock on the door from the sheriff.
Something like this would be particularly irksome for people who, like ourselves, sold our house a few years ago when everyone else was clamoring to buy and have been renting since that time, waiting for bargains to materialize.
Anyway, it looks like some help is on the way.
Across the country, thousands of renters have become innocent victims of the mortgage crisis: They have been forced to move because the owner of the property was in foreclosure. Security deposits have been lost and lives turned upside-down as people scramble to find a new place to live on short notice.Renters more responsible than homeowners - now ain't that a change?
A few states recently passed or proposed laws to protect renters by requiring mortgage holders to provide sufficient notice for tenants living in foreclosed properties. Sheriffs in Illinois and Michigan also have stepped in to help.
"It's a huge issue, and it's one that until recently has flown under the radar," said Danilo Pelletiere, research director at the National Low Income Housing Coalition. "Renters haven't been addressed by some localities because they have been focusing on homeowners."
Last week, Tom Dart, the sheriff in Chicago's Cook County, drew the ire of landlords and lenders everywhere when he announced he would no longer send his deputies on court-ordered foreclosure evictions because many of the people being turned out on the street were tenants who had faithfully paid the rent.