Much of the focus on stories about Miami foreclosures hones in on the impact to homeowners. This is perhaps rightly so – after all, they are the ones who are going to be affected by the ensuing displacement, poor credit and depleted finances.
However, our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys know there is another party who often suffers as a result of the foreclosures currently clogging our system: Renters.
The Times-Herald in Michigan recently detailed the plight of a family – husband, wife and four children – who had been forced from their four-bedroom home following extended bouts of unemployment. Their home was foreclosed on.
In trying to get their life back in order, they moved into a five-bedroom home in a nearby town, which they understood they were paying for on a lease-to-own basis. They had no idea that the new house they had moved to was also in foreclosure.
They had asked all the right questions, they thought. They were told everything was a go.
Now, with four teens in tow, they have been forced to pack up and relocate once again, or face a short notice eviction at any moment.
Unfortunately, there are few protections in place for renters in these types of scenarios. Landlords may be tempted not to inform renters of the impending foreclosure because if they don’t have to, why not just continue to collect the rent and make a few extra bucks?
And because of the glut of foreclosed homes on the market, these scenarios are likely to become more commonplace. It all works to contribute to the instability of our housing market, not only in Florida but across the country.
According to real estate think tank RealtyTrac, there are an estimated 180,000 Florida properties currently in foreclosure. Essentially, that breaks down to one in every 363 households in the state. Of those, Miami-Dade had the most, with more than 3,700, followed by Broward with more than 2,700 and Palm Beach with nearly 2,000.
These figures are expected to expand greatly in the coming months, following a slow-down that resulted from the government’s halting of robo-signing and other questionable practices that led to widespread fraud.
One thing renters can do to protect themselves is check on the county’s property appraiser site to cross-check both the landlord and the property. If the property is owned by the bank, this is a dead give-away that the property is already in foreclosure, and you’re not likely to be able to stay there for long.
Renters could also request to see recent mortgage statements or receipts. What you’re looking for is to see whether the landlord is current on his or her payments.
Additionally, renters might be able to persuade the bank to allow them to stay a bit longer, if they have a decent payment history and have taken care of the property. With so many foreclosures on the market – and more cities and counties getting proactive about forcing the banks to maintain those properties and prevent blight – a renter might be a good alternative.
A discussion with an experienced foreclosure or real estate attorney to discuss your options – particularly if you find yourself in a hostile situation – is also something that may work to your advantage.
If you need help with foreclosure issues in Miami or the surrounding areas, including short sales, deficiency judgments, strategic defaults or other help for Miami homeowners, contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 350-5055.
Foreclosure leaves little recourse for renters, By AMY BIOLCHINI, Times Herald