Housing News

Tenant Protection: Repressed Rights

Tenant rights are not standardized in the country.

What does North Carolina and New York have in common in terms of tenant protection? There are only two of the very few states that allow renters to stay in their homes after foreclosure under their lease terms. In California, only Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles and Santa Monica rule out foreclosure as a basis for eviction.

Foreclosures have risen to 259,985 up by 28 percent YoY according to RealtyTrac. That puts the total amount of foreclosed homes to 1,014,618 since August of last year. This situation has put a lot of tenants in surprising situations; the most notorious of which is being evicted from their foreclosed dwelling without prior notice from their landlords.

CNNMoney.com recently ran a report regarding this scheme, revealing that the law doesn’t require renters to be informed that an impending foreclosure is set to be imposed. Banks are required to give notice 20 days prior to the foreclosure sale. It is expected then that responsible landlords inform the tenants ahead of time to prepare them for eviction. However, in most cases, the tenant is shocked by the sight of a sheriff in front of the house, ready to sack their things out.

Under the New York Real Property Law,

“Landlords are prohibited from harassing or retaliating against tenants who exercise their rights. For example, landlords may not seek to evict tenants solely because tenants …(b) take good faith actions to protect their rights under the lease. Tenants may collect damages from landlords who violate this law, which applies to all rentals except owner-occupied dwellings with fewer than four units.”
New York Real Property Law 223-b.

That puts New York renters in safeguard against unnoticed eviction due to the irresponsibility of their landlords. They can only be forced out for stipulated reasons. There are also a number of community-based organizations that provide free legal assistance, emergency financial support and loan subsidies for New York tenants. However, such is not the case in other states. In Atlanta, landlords are required to give 30-day notice to the tenant but it isn’t always followed. Mathew Cardinale of The Atlanta Progressive News reports a number of similar cases where tenants were clearly at the losing side.

This is one issue that has been clouded over by other pressing property problems. There should be more local protection through legislation in ensuring longer foreclosure notices and advanced warnings to both landlord and tenant to eliminate abusive practices among those who continue to violate lease agreements.

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