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TENANTS ACROSS FRESNO COUNTY THANK ASSESSOR FOR TAKING STAND AGAINST FORECLOSURE
Fresno County Assessor-Recorder, Paul Dictos, CPA announced Monday, August 6, 2012, that he sent out letters which included know-your rights information to tenants and homeowners in properties where the homeowner or landlord is at risk of being foreclosed. Tenants Together reached out to the Assessor-Recorder of Fresno in the Fall of 2011 regarding the plight of tenants living in pre-and post-foreclosed properties. "It has been our experience that tenants who know their rights before a foreclosure occurs are much more likely to stay in their homes for the full 90 days that federal law entitles them. As a result, they experience less trauma, both financially and emotionally, from the foreclosure," said Leah Simon-Weisberg, Tenants Together Legal Director.
The County Recorder's office is the first government agency to become aware of a pending foreclosure; it makes sense that it would be the recorder to take on this role. While foreclosure has impacted over 1 million tenants since 2007, very few politicians will be able to say they took action to protect tenants and homeowners. Fresno County Assessor -Recorder Paul Dictos will be one of the few who will be able to say, "I took action."
All California tenants in foreclosure situations can call Tenants Together's Tenant Foreclosure Hotline toll-free at 1-888-495-8020. "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," commented Simon-Weisberg.
Most Fresno 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 July 2012, it released its fourth annual report, One Million California Tenants and Counting. 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 6,000 tenants, many of them from Fresno.