For tenants living in foreclosed property, this isn’t a joke. Renters make up 40% of the households at risk of eviction due to foreclosure, and many of these families don’t know who will confront them the next time they hear a knock at the door. After signing a lease with one landlord, they are now living in a home that is owned by a different person (or a bank) with whom they’ve never had a relationship. Often, renters don’t know where to send their rent checks, who to call to fix a leaky pipe, or whether they should be hunting for a new place to live. Sometimes, tenants don’t even know for sure that a foreclosure has taken place until weeks or months after the fact.
After speaking with renters and local advocates, it became clear that the first point of contact after a foreclosure often is not the new owner—it’s a real estate agent. The real estate agents hired by banks to market rental properties for resale are often the only face-to-face representatives of their new landlords that renters will ever meet. And although they aren’t lawyers, renters often turn to these agents to get information about their rights to remain in their homes. This dynamic can leave both sides confused and frustrated.
The Law Center is therefore very happy to announce a new partnership with the National Association of Realtors. NAR is the largest trade organization in North America, with over 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the real estate industry. Already, we have worked with them to develop a fact sheet on the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act and a Frequently Asked Questions document for Realtors working with renters living in foreclosed properties. We’re also working with them to develop other means of reaching out to Realtors.
As the foreclosure crisis stretches on, and continues to affect renters all over the United States, the Law Center looks forward to working with NAR and other industry groups to make sure that tenants are educated about their rights and no longer worried every time they hear a knock at the door.
-Geraldine Doetzer, Housing Attorney