Saturday, February 7, 2009

Renters Rights

The issue of renters at foreclosed properties is not going away any time soon. Even though much of the housing is focused on the actual owners or the lenders, renters are involved in the situation as well. While renter laws can change from state to state, even from city to city, often the foreclosure process ignores these. Standard letters are issued and people are told to vacate a property.

However, for those living in New Jersey, are paying their rents on time and follow the appropriate lease agreement, those rights do not end with foreclosure. In fact, the lender or bank that owns the property has just become the renters new landlord. In the Vineland Daily Journal, NJ's Public Advocate Ronald K. Chen penned an article titled Tenants living in foreclosed properties have rights, too. Lets take a look -

At the Department of the Public Advocate, we have learned that tenants who rent properties that are subject to foreclosure are being kicked out of their homes when the bank takes over the property.

Make no mistake: this practice is almost always illegal in New Jersey.

In 1994, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the New Jersey Anti-Eviction Act protects most tenants from eviction even when the property where they live is in foreclosure or has been foreclosed.

In other words, under New Jersey law, a tenant in good standing comes with the property when the property changes hands because of a foreclosure.

Despite these legal protections, I have recently seen copies of notices and letters sent to tenants that imply, or state outright, that they must leave because of a pending or completed foreclosure. These notices warn that the locks will soon be changed, or that the tenants' possessions may be removed. Universally, the notices demand that the tenants make immediate contact with the lender's representative to discuss possible relocation assistance or eligibility for a "cash for keys" program -- all predicated on the tenants' vacating within a very short time frame.

A number is provided for the Public Advocates Office of Citizen Relations - 609-826-5070 - to call if a renter is being forced from their property. Lets try to keep foreclosure's forgotten victims to a minimum!


Anonymous said...

What are the tenants rights to "showing the home" to potential buyers once over bank control?

NJHH said...

We do not know. Try calling the Public Advocates Office of Citizen Relations at 609-826-5070 and see what they say. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Does the law apply to single family homes?

We rented a house that was previously our primary residence before we moved out of NJ. Tenant are still in place and it is going into foreclosure.

Being that is is SFR and at one time was owner occupied, are they covered?