Monday, August 3, 2009
Help Me Howard: Renting Foreclosure
If you rent, you expect certain things. A leak-free roof over your head, toilets that flush and for your landlord to pay their mortgage, but all over South Florida landlords are heading into foreclosure while continuing to cash their tenants' checks. What's a responsible renter to do? Here's Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When Chad was little he liked turtles.
Chad Denny: "I've been collecting turtles for as long as I can remember."
As he grew older, he loved to read about Medieval times and dragons.
Chad Denny: "Above that is my dragon collection."
As an adult, when bobble head dolls became popular, he continued his collection hobby.
Chad Denny: "Well, I am a kid. I'm just a big kid."
But this big kid is now collecting something he doesn't want-- headaches.
Chad Denny: "We got a knock on the door, we received a summons, and it was notifying us that the townhouse that we live in is starting foreclosure proceedings."
Chad, his wife, and son have rented this townhouse for the past five years, each month paying his $1400 rent on time.
Chad Denny: "We don't know where our money has gone because we know now that it hasn't gone towards the mortgage."
After getting the summons, Chad and his wife started digging and found out the landlord had not paid the mortgage since February. He forgot to mention that to Chad, but he didn't forget to cash Chad's rent check for the past seven months.
Chad Denny: "He's taking our money, and he's not doing what he's supposed to do with it. Ethically and morally, we feel what he is doing is wrong. He's cheating the system."
What the landlord is also doing is scaring a family.
Chad Denny: "Can't describe the stress, knowing that you may not have a home in a month. You cannot describe that stress."
Chad tried to contact the landlord to find out how long he has before the bank throws him out. The landlord won't return his calls, convincing Chad he will probably never get his security deposit back.
Chad Denny: "Our security deposit is $2,800, and for us, I think, for a majority of Americans, that's a fair share of money, and we are very concerned."
But, the bank won't tell you when they will foreclose, the landlord is not talking, so, Howard, is Chad out of luck?
Howard Finkelstein: "Since foreclosures can take a year, Chad has time to protect himself. If your landlord is going into foreclosure, that is a breach of your lease. Send a letter giving them seven days to correct up the problem. When they don't, withhold the rent money each month until it equals the amount the landlord owes you. Then take that money to find a new place."
Chad couldn't get in touch with his landlord, he didn't return our calls either. A new federal law just passed does allow tenants to stay for the remainder of their lease, even if the bank takes over the property. However, you still need to send a seven-day letter to your old landlord to make sure you get your security deposit back.
But to make sure your landlord is not in foreclosure, just go to your computer.
Howard Finkelstein: "If you are a renter, it might not be a bad time to go on-line and check to see if your landlord is in foreclosure. Each county has the information. Odds are your landlord is not in foreclosure, but find out before it's too late."
Chad will now send his landlord a seven-day letter, and if things don't work out, get ready for the day his family has to move out.
Chad Denny: "We have a lot of memories in this house. We've been here for a while, and he's grown up here, he's done a lot, accomplished a lot, and it will be sad if we have to leave."
It's good for people already renting, or if you are going to rent a place, to check and see if the landlord is in foreclosure before you sign a lease.
Foregone conclusion you're foregoing a final solution? Need a new lease on life? Rent us out. We'll never foreclose and never forget about you. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser, 7 News.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Landlord In Foreclosure Searches in the tri-county area:
Broward County Clerk of the Courts
Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Courts
Monroe County Clerk of the Courts