Statewide Organization Releases Action Guide for California Tenants in Foreclosure Situations

Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tenants Together

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Due to overwhelming demand, Tenants Together, California's Statewide Organization for Renters' Rights, today released the Action Guide for California Tenants in Foreclosure Situations to help tenants caught up as innocent victims of the foreclosure crisis learn, assert, and expand their rights. The Action Guide is available online at www.tenantstogether.org/ActionGuide.

As recently noted by California Attorney General Jerry Brown, "tenants who live in properties in foreclosure are the forgotten victims of the collapse of the housing market." Tenant Together released its Action Guide to aid these tenants who are routinely harassed and misled by banks and private investors after foreclosure.

The Action Guide includes four sections:

  • Section 1 helps tenants learn what stage in the foreclosure process their home is in
  • Section 2 helps tenants learn and assert their rights so they can stay in their home for as long as possible, maintain their home in a habitable condition, live free of harassment from their landlord, and recover their security deposit¬†
  • Section 3 helps tenants learn how they can pressure bad actors (typically banks, private investors, real estate agents, and eviction law firms) by shining a public spotlight on them. The Action Guide includes downloadable sample-letters to banks and to elected officials as well as a web-based, sample letter to the editor.¬†
  • Section 4 helps tenants work to expand their rights by forming local Tenant Action Groups and by demanding that their city council pass a local just cause for eviction ordinances to provide long-term protections for tenants in foreclosure situations

The Action Guide is intended as a supplement to the information tenants will get from a trained counselor by contacting Tenant Together's Tenant Foreclosure Hotline by submitting an online intake form at www.tenantstogether.org/hotlineintake. Since launching in March, 2009, the hotline has counseled over 4,000 tenants.

Tenants are innocent victims in a foreclosure crisis they did nothing to create. As reported by Tenants Together's 2010 Report: California Renters in the Foreclosure Crisis, in 2009, at least 37% of foreclosed units were rentals, directly affecting more than 200,000 renters. Many are having their utilities shut off, struggling to recover their security deposits, and being illegally evicted from their homes.

Most tenants in foreclosure situations are only entitled to short-term protections under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, a federal law which, with limited exceptions, provides tenants with month-to-month rental agreements the right to a 90-day notice to vacate after foreclosure and tenants with long-term leases the right to stay in their home through the term of their lease. Presently, only 16 California cities have local just cause eviction protections which provide long-term protections against foreclosure evictions. The Action Guide provides an innovative roadmap to help tenants pressure their local governments to adopt these long-term protections.

According to Gabe Treves, Tenants Together's Program Coordinator, "time and again we have seen banks and private investors back down when tenants stand up for their rights. Our Action Guide will help tenants fight back and turn the tables on these abusive landlords after foreclosure."

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