Tenants Together, California's Statewide Organization for Renters' Rights, released a new report today on the impact of foreclosures on California renters. The report, Hidden Impact: California Renters in the Foreclosure Crisis, conservatively estimates that at least one third of residential units in foreclosure in California are rentals. Renters in these properties are innocent and hidden victims of a foreclosure crisis they did nothing to create.
The report provides essential insight into the hardships faced by hundreds of thousands of California renters in foreclosed properties. Renters are facing utility shut-offs, eviction, loss of security deposits, and other related problems when their homes go into foreclosure because their landlords fail to pay the mortgage. Due to loopholes in tenant protection laws and lax enforcement of existing laws, renters are living through nightmare situations - even basic rights like the right to running water cannot be taken for granted by renters in foreclosed properties. Banks routinely evict all renters after foreclosure.
According to Dean Preston, Executive Director of Tenants Together, "Banks are throwing tenants out of their homes so that properties can sit vacant. It's unconscionable. Foreclosure evictions must be stopped."
Hidden Impact provides a roadmap of what needs to be done to protect renters from the hardships described in the report. The report includes a checklist of recommended action at all levels of government. Among the various proposals, the report notes that "just cause for eviction" laws are a particularly effective and cost-free way to stop the unjust displacement of innocent renters after foreclosure.
Tenants Together is in a unique position to report on the human impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters. The organization operates California's only hotline exclusively for tenants in foreclosure situations. California tenants can reach the Tenant Foreclosure Hotline at 415.495.8012.
Data collected from the Tenant Foreclosure Hotline revealed that a shocking 62% of renters surveyed live in properties incorrectly listed as "owner-occupied" in county-based data. The report calls for further study on the issue, asserting that "a study based on actual usage of properties, as opposed to how the properties are described in county records, will reveal a significantly higher percentage of renter-occupied households." The report predicts that "the 'at least one third' estimate that we announce in this report appears to be just the tip of the iceberg."