What renters need to know about foreclosure
If you're renting a home, don't assume foreclosure won't affect you.
As tenants across the country have discovered the last few years, you can end up with a bank wanting to throw you out if your landlord doesn't keep up with the mortgage payments. Some residents who never missed a rent payment have been caught completely by surprise.
The Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition and the Public Justice Center are launching a new education campaign to put renters on guard and remind them of their rights if a foreclosing bank starts talking about eviction.
About 40 percent of Baltimore homes in the foreclosure process are investor-owned, so that does happen all the time. Some landlords get behind because their renters aren't paying, but others simply overextended themselves.
"Tenants are often the forgotten and unintended victims of foreclosure," Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said in a statement about the campaign.
The key things to remember:
Renters generally have the right to remain in the home for the remainder of their lease, or at least 90 days after receiving a valid notice to vacate if the lease term is shorter. Campaign organizers recommend that renters get legal help -- Public Justice offers it for free -- before accepting any deals to move out early in exchange for cash.
How can you know if your landlord is in trouble? Open all mail, even if it's just addressed to "occupant," so you don't miss official notices. You can also find out if a foreclosure case is pending in a Maryland court by putting the landlord's name into the court system's look-up site. (In Baltimore, you can also search by the property address.)
The public awareness campaign, funded with $30,000 from the Open Society Institute, will include television and radio spots as well as MTA bus ads.