16 April 2010

Renters rights in a foreclosure, funny MLS photos


I do not handle rentals per se, and I am not licensed to practice law. But yesterday I received a late-night call from a friend who rents a house in Coral Gables. When he came home in the evening, he found a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal of Foreclosure and Release of Lis Pendens on his door. Nice welcome, huh?

He was irritated, to say the least, and wondering what exactly his rights are in case the property he lives in gets foreclosed.

A little-known Federal law called the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, effective since last year, addresses the issue.

In essence: if a tenant has a lease  – and even though oral leases are valid, it better be in writing – he/she has the right to stay in the property until the end of the lease. If there is no lease, or if the buyer claims the property as his/her residence, the tenant has 90 days to vacate. (Note that these provisions phase out with the end of 2012, and Florida law is far less protective.)

The Federal act however doesn’t slow down some bullying attorneys, banks and landlords (never seen or heard of a bullying Realtor. You?). As the Miami Herald reported this week, they count on the lack of knowledge
on part of the tenants and go for the instant solution, sometimes evicting within 48 hours.

Worse: ”The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that 40 percent of households that lose their homes to foreclosure are renters. It stands to reason that in the city of Miami, where 64 percent of homes are rentals and there are 25,000 foreclosures in process, the proportion is much higher.”

Tenants are often unaware that their residence is in foreclosure. My friend in the Gables found out only through the love-note from the lender. But throughout the proceedings, his landlord continued to collect rent without informing him.

If you suspect that the property you are renting could be heading towards foreclosure or is already there, please speak with a real estate attorney. If you need attorney recommendations, let me know.


In this difficult market, most real estate agents put their best foot forward to attract the most buyers and present the property in it's best light. 

For some though, all the effort just doesn't seem to work. Here are a few of the main property photos (means: the first photo a Realtor sees when pulling this property up) from our database MLS:

(Photos are unedited, except where house number and information on yard sign were deleted.)

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