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Renters In Foreclosure
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October 19, 2012
The foreclosure crisis has taken its toll on renters in Baltimore. According to The Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition, from 2009-2011, about 50% of all foreclosures filings were on rental properties. WYPR’s Mary Rose Madden has this report about the realities many face when their landlord is foreclosed upon.
Mary Rose Madden: Deirdre Peace paid about seven hundred dollars a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Northwood. One day in late August someone knocked on her door.
Deirdre Peace: And said this house is going up for foreclosure – it was going up for auction and they wanted to take a look around. And I’m like, Are you kidding me? I said my landlord never told me that.
Madden: Peace says she received no notice nor a phone call from her landlord.
Peace: Next thing I know the auctioneers are on the front – auctioning the house off. And I was still living in the hosue.
Madden: She said her mind started racing with panic.
Peace: All I could think about was I have to go. I have to move.
Madden: Peace called Baltimore Neighborhood’s Inc –tenant-landlord foreclosure hotline. Nokomis Johns, who runs the hotline, says that Peace is a lot like many of the calls they get.
Nokomis Johns: Mostly people are concerned about and thinking they are going to be put out they think they can be evicted immediately. And that’s not true. If they’re a bonafied tenant by the law they have the right to fulfill their lease or at least have an additional 90 days to remain in the property.
Madden: Johns is talking about a federal law that passed in 2009 called Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure. Matt Hill from The Public Justice Center says that law is supposed to protect tenants and their lease.
Matt Hill: Whoever buys at the foreclosure sale steps into shoes of the old landlord. So they get to collect rent but they also have the obligation to be the landlord.
Madden: Hill points out that most foreclosures are bought by the banks or whatever financial institution had the mortgage. And that creates all kinds of problems. Hill: The reality is that most of the time when the banks or some financial trust takes over these properties they really don’t want to continue renting the property. They want to evict the tenants. There are exceptions to that. Certain financial institutions have hired property managers.
Madden: Hill says sometimes the bank will offer the tenant cash for keys. That can be a good deal for the tenant, but it doesn’t always happen.
Hill: If the tenant if they’re not offered a cash for keys deal and the tenant wants to continue to rent the property and there are certain conditions like leaky roofs, no heat, significant mold, broken doors – these are common and if the tenant wants to rent the property but the purchaser – usually the bank - doesn’t want to rent the property, they generally ignore the tenant and the conditions become worse.
Madden: In this situation,Hill says, the bank or financial institution has become a deadbeat landlord. The tenant may decide to move, but Hill and many others say the options for affordable, habitable rental housing are sparse.
Hill: There’s not a whole lot of places to go – but some of these other properties that are in equally bad conditions – but where they’re expected to pay substantial rents. So what you see is a dilapidated housing stock – many landlords just get by doing the bare minimum.
Madden: Take Deirdre Peace: she was paying for an apartment that had no heat for three months last winter.
Peace: And I’m 60 years old and I get sick with the respiratory and all that. And I didn’t complain to him - I said you need to get some heat. “Yeah, Ms. Peace, I’m working on that. Working on that.”
Madden: The low to moderate income rental market in Baltimore is decreasing. More than 5,000 rental properties were foreclosed on from 2009-2011. It’s made slim pickings even slimmer for folks like Peace. I’m Mary Rose Madden reporting for 88-1 WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at email@example.com.
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