Renters' Rights Violated by Foreclosed Property Owners

It's not only homeowners who are under pressure from the real estate market's slow recovery. Renters are experiencing it, too.

But in their case, it's often property owners who are applying it, in violation of a law passed last year by President Obama under the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. The act states that tenants have the right to stay in their homes after foreclosure for 90 days or through the term of their lease.

The problem has been particularly rampant in Miami-Dade County, Fla., where many landlords disregard the law, and take matters into their own hands.

It turns out that Florida is one of the least friendly states to tenants, allowing landlords to evict with no just cause and a 15-day notice for renters on a month-to-month contract. To make matters worse, most banks, mortgage companies, real estate agents and foreclosure attorneys in South Florida are following the property owners' lead and also ignoring the law. Only a handful of Florida lawmakers are advocating for the renters, as they hammer out two state bills that would serve as counterparts to federal laws protecting tenants in foreclosure.

The two bills at issue are HB 125 (Rental Property Foreclosure or Short-Sale Actions) and HB 415 (Termination of a Residential Rental Agreement Upon Foreclosure). Action on these two bills began in the Florida House in March and the bills are still under review.

If they pass, that's good news for tenants who unwittingly rent units in properties that are in foreclosure. Many who simply lack the resources to access real estate advice are later put out on the street with little warning by foreclosed owners.

"The law in general is being deliberately ignored," a Florida Legal Services attorney told the Miami Herald.

However, should the bills pass, renters will have a glimmer of hope, and at least three months to find new shelter.

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