Rental property foreclosures remain a national epidemic, affecting millions of people across the country including three million children. Renters are often kept in the dark about the foreclosure status of their homes, and they may not learn that their housing is in jeopardy until they are served with an eviction notice. The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (“PTFA”) provides important protections to renters in foreclosed properties, requiring new owners to allow any bona fide renters to remain in their homes for the full duration of their lease agreements or for a minimum of 90 days with notice, whichever is longer.
Although the PTFA has been in place since 2009, violations of the law continue. The Law Center has addressed this ongoing problem by collecting information about PTFA violations from tenants and tenant advocates across the country and then working with the named violators to change the way they do business. We believe that working in collaboration to bring new owners and their agents into voluntary compliance with the PTFA is an effective strategy that benefits everyone involved, and our success in building these strategic partnerships suggests we’re right.
One shining example of this collaborative work is with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an organization whose members represent nearly half of all real estate agents working nationwide. Real estate agents are often the first points of contact for tenants living in foreclosed properties, and it is not uncommon for their communication to be the only information that a renter is given about their housing options. Consequently, the information that a real estate agent provides to a renter is of the utmost importance – it must be accurate, clear, and given in good faith.
When the Law Center learned that real estate agents are among the most commonly cited violators of the PTFA, we reached out to NAR to suggest methods of collaboration that would educate real estate agents of their obligations under federal law. NAR, recognizing the benefit that such collaboration would provide to its members, responded with enthusiasm.
Together, the Law Center and NAR have created written educational materials for real estate agents, answered their commonly asked questions about the PTFA, and composed joint articles for distribution to NAR’s members. Most recently, NAR and the Law Center completed a video podcast about the PTFA. In the podcast, Bill Gilmartin, Senior Policy Advisor at NAR, and Tristia Bauman, Housing Attorney at the Law Center, discuss the application of the PTFA to real estate professionals and how real estate agents can be sure that they are complying with this important federal law in their work. The video podcast is hosted on NAR’s website, as well as on the Law Center’s homepage, and has been advertised to over one million real estate agents. You can watch the video below.
NAR should be commended for making its communication outlets to members readily available to the Law Center. The efforts of NAR and the Law Center to educate real estate professionals about the PTFA will enhance compliance with the law to the benefit of countless renters. This effort serves as an important model that should be duplicated across the country and across relevant industries.