Renters facing foreclosure: know your rights
Some renters are dealing with a problem they never thought they’d face: foreclosure. You can pay your rent on time and live up to your end of the lease, but the place where you live could still end up in foreclosure.
If you rent a home or apartment, learn the warning signs and how you can protect yourself from foreclosure:
- Get a written lease, and record it at the local Register of Deeds office.This will give you certain rights under state law [see below]. Keep copies of your lease and other important paperwork in a safe, easy to find place.
- Pay close attention to notices posted on apartment bulletin boards and watch for signs that the property owner may not be keeping up with regular maintenance and repairs.
- Some local newspapers print lists of bankruptcies. Check them out if you suspect your landlord may be in trouble.
- If you get notice that the property is in foreclosure, don’t stop paying rent or following other rules outlined in your lease. Just because your landlord goes into foreclosure doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for paying rent.
- If you put down a security deposit, try to work it out with the landlord to get it back. If the deposit is held by a real estate company, ask the company not to release the funds until the foreclosure is resolved to prevent the landlord from spending your deposit.
- Once the property has been sold, you can try to negotiate with the mortgage company for a new lease or even to buy the property. If you have a legitimate lease and the mortgage company still wants you to move out, they should offer to cover your moving costs.
Both state and federal law offer some protections from foreclosure for renters, so make sure you know your rights.
Your Rights under Federal Law
- The foreclosure buyer is required to honor any lease that you entered into before the foreclosure. The buyer must let you keep living at the residence for the rest of your lease under the same terms, as long as you keep paying rent and meet the other requirements of the lease. The only exceptions are if you (the tenant) are the former mortgage holder, their child, spouse or parent, or if the foreclosure buyer sells the property to someone who plans to move in and use it as his or her primary residence.
- The foreclosure buyer must give you 90 days notice to move out, even if you don’t have a lease or if your lease has less than 90 days left on it. However, this does not mean that you get 90 days in addition to all the time left on the lease. For example, if you have 60 days left on your lease then you will get 30 more days for a total of 90 days.
Your Rights under North Carolina Law
- If your lease is entered into and recorded at the county Register of Deeds prior to the start of foreclosure preceedings, then the mortgage holder and foreclosure buyer are required to honor it.
- If your lease is recorded at the county Register of Deeds, you’re entitled to receive notice of a foreclosure hearing.
- If you rent a house or an apartment in a complex that has fewer than 15 units, you’re entitled to 20 days advance notice of a foreclosure sale by first class mail. This notice should also state that if you entered into or renewed your lease on or after October 1, 2007, you have the right to end your lease by giving your landlord 10 days written notice.
My Consumer Protection Division is here to help. If you have questions about your rights as a renter you can contact us toll free at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or online at www.ncdoj.gov