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Today, Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights, sent a tenants rights factsheet to tenants in over 1,000 Stockton rental units with landlords who are at risk of being foreclosed. The factsheet is designed to help these tenants learn and assert their rights.
A recent study of California property records by Tenants Together concluded that, in 2010, at least 40% of foreclosed units in Stockton were rentals, directly affecting over 4,400 renters.
"Tenants are innocent victims of a foreclosure crisis they did nothing to create. Year after year, banks needlessly displace rent-paying tenants from their homes. Tenants are being torn from their homes and communities are being destabilized while properties sit vacant and fall into blight in this stagnant real estate market" said Gabe Treves, Program Coordinator at Tenants Together.
Most Stockton tenants in foreclosure situations are covered by the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA). However, the PTFA only provides short-term protections and is commonly violated by the real estate agents and eviction law firms contracted by banks acquiring tenant-occupied properties at foreclosure.
Local-level 'just cause for eviction' laws are a particularly effective and cost-free way to stop the unjust displacement of innocent renters after foreclosure and provide stability to the community at large. Federal and state laws recognize that local communities are free to adopt additional eviction protections. Fifteen California cities already have these local-level laws, including Berkeley, Beverly Hills, East Palo Alto, Glendale, Hayward, Los Angeles, Maywood, Oakland, Palm Springs, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, and Hollywood.
Tenants Together continues to lead efforts to mitigate the impact of the foreclosure crisis on tenants. In January 2011, it released its third annual report, California Renters in the Foreclosure Crisis. Additionally, it operates California's only hotline exclusively for tenants in foreclosure situations. California tenants can reach the Tenant Foreclosure Hotline by submitting an online intake form at www.tenantstogether.org/hotlineintake to get a call back from a counselor. Since launching, the hotline has assisted more than 5,000 tenants, many of them from Stockton. "We offer this hotline as a free service for renters in foreclosure situations who are being victimized by banks and real estate speculators" commented Program Coordinator, Gabe Treves.