It’s no secret that the foreclosure crisis has had a tremendous impact on the United States. In 2008, state and local homeless groups reported a 61 percent rise in homelessness since the beginning of the foreclosure crisis. But what may surprise you is that 40 percent of families facing foreclosure-related eviction are not owners, but renters. Worse, 7 million households living on extremely low incomes are presently at risk of foreclosure.
Thanks in part to a report issued by the Law Center and the National Low Income Housing Coalition at the beginning of 2009, the federal government and a number of states have taken action. The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) was signed into law by President Obama in May of last year, and it affords tenants unprecedented federal protections – including the right to 90-days notice prior to eviction or, in many cases, the right to stay in their home until the end of their lease.
But as the law will eventually expire and does not negate state law when it offers renters better protections, it’s important that steps be taken at the state level too. We’re happy to report progress on that front! Since the release of our 2009 report, 16 states have enacted new renters’ rights laws, and 21 states have proposed legislation pending. This helps fill gaps in PTFA’s protections, and assures security for renters in the long-term, in the event that PTFA is not renewed past its 2012 sunset.
There’s still a lot to be done, though. As you’ll discover in our new report, Staying Home: The Rights of Renters Living in Foreclosed Properties, renters’ rights are being violated across the country. New property owners (often banks) are many times failing to inform or misleading renters about their rights, or even illegally evicting them. Federal and state regulators must get more involved to curb these trends, exercising their oversight of banks and, when appropriate, litigating to ensure compliance with the law.
To read our new report, click here. Please circulate it widely.
-Andy Beres, Grant Writer/Communications Assistant