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Is there a Law that protects renters from foreclosure or bankruptcy?

Lynnwood, WA |

So I am a renter in Snohomish County, And just over a month after moving in we got a notice posted about foreclosure procedures. We immediately notified the Real estate co. which they then stated that it was in process of a loan and it was a normal procedure. 2 months pass and we get another notice that a auction date had been set, And there were default payments. Come to find out that there was never a loan process, but that the owner had indeed filed for bankruptcy and that the whole time that we have resided at the residence no payments that we had made had been applied to loan/house payment.
The real estate co. hasent been helpful with information besides that we can call the number on the notice. And that we are "entitled to our deposit back" but wont say we will get it. Pls help

We have a year lease that is up in May 2012. Auction date was set to be on Dec. 16, but is delayed due to Bankruptcy proceedings. Do I continue to pay my rent, Do I immediately move even though I wont get my 1600.00 deposit back? Can I sue the homeowner for renting to me after they filed bankruptcy? Thanks for your time. Danielle

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Attorney answers 3


It appears from your statement that your lease would be an asset of the estate in bankruptcy, so if the bank, for example, gets the property, then your rental payments would go to the bank. Foreclosure merely means that the ownership of the property is changing. You don't mention anything about eviction, so you are probably okay to stay put. You should definitely contact the number on the documents you mention. You might also want to contact the trustee of the estate in bankruptcy. You can probably find him, if you haven't already, from court documents with the bankruptcy court.

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Yes, there are specific rules to protect you, both State and Federal. The Federal rule is called the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009. I have a legal guide linked to my profile on this law, or Google "P.L. 111-22" and read it yourself. The protection period is 90 days, no matter what the bank tells you. You need to be sure to pay rent to the owner (or a property manager is called for in your rental agreement) each and every month until the property is actually auctioned. After the auction, what you want to do is your choice, not the property manager's. If you want to stay and pay rent, you can do that for the balance of your lease. If you want to leave, they must give you 90 day's notice before they can commence eviction proceedings.

The real estate company cannot give you legal advice, even if you ask. First, they are not lawyers, and second, their interests are adverse to you. They did correctly advise you that you are entitled to the return of your deposit. It isn't clear exactly when. But Google RCW 59 18; that is the WA State residential landlord-tenant act, and the rules about what happens to your deposit when your landlord takes a bankruptcy. The deposit money is yours, it is not part of your landlord's bankruptcy estate, and they do not get to keep it. This section is new as of this summer, as it has become such a pervasive problem over the last couple of years.

Snohomish County has a Housing Justice Project. You could call the Snohomish County Bar and see if there is a clinic you can attend to get more individualized advice. I hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

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If your lease came before the notice of foreclosure, then you may be protected to the end of your lease. However, if the new owners wish to move in, then you have at least 90 days.

Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.