The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act & Your Letter to Retain Rental
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It’s Your Right to 90 Days Notice or Until Lease Expiration
Writing a letter to your landlord, or property owner, objecting to the new owners attempt to terminate your lease and have you evicted after a foreclosure sale is the best path when confronted with this situation. If you rent your home or apartment then The Protecting Tenants Foreclosure Act protects you from this type of early lease termination or eviction. At a minimum you must receive 90 days notice of termination of your tenancy. And if this owner attempts to give less than 90 days you need to send a letter about the law, your lease, and how he must comply.
If you have a lease for a term, such as 6 months or a year, then the owner cannot evict you until the end of this lease term. Under law you have the right to continue occupancy until the end of that lease term; new owners acquiring homes or property through a foreclosure sale must honor existing leases.
These timeframes start from the “Notice of Foreclosure” which is the date that the title to the property is conveyed to a person or entity through a court order or through the provisions of a security deed, mortgage or deed of trust.
To sum up your rights:
Again, the only exception is if the new owner wants to live in this home or rental unit and make it their primary residency. But even in this event they must provide 90 days notice to vacate the property. So if your landlord files what is called in many states an unlawful detainer action (but which is illegal in all states and is essentially an eviction complaint against you and serves a notice of lease termination) without giving you the 90 days notice, or starts eviction proceedings, then you need to write a letter that clearly spells out that their actions are against the law. Let them know that a landlord can only end a lease agreement in this situation with a 90-days notice or until the lease expires. In your letter clearly cite the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, [Title VII of the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 111–22)]. This Act ensures that tenants are not suddenly sent an eviction notice and abruptly tossed out of their homes or apartments.
Things to Remember
- Continue to pay rent. If you stop your landlord can then under the law give you notice to quit the rental unit. You still must abide by the terms of your lease. Also keep copies of your rent payments.
- You should make a copy of the letter you write to your landlord responding to their attempts to make you leave early.
- Send your letter to the new owner by certified mail, return receipt requested, at the address the new owner put on his/her notice to you.
- These notice periods begin when the notice is provided by the new owner, not from the date of the foreclosure.
- The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act applies to foreclosures of all residential property not just federally related mortgage loans or single family properties. This law applies to federal related mortgage loans, single family homes, and all residential property including tenants of multifamily property, condos, even those renting a mobile home (where it was attached to real estate and sold at a foreclosure sale) are all protected by the Act.
The Layout for an Early Lease Termination Response Letter
Follow our tried and tested template below. If there’s anything you aren’t sure about drop us a line or just use our pre-made Letter Responding to Early Lease Termination >
- Letter Head
- Certified Mail Return Receipt
- Landlord Name & Address
- Re: Early Lease Termination Response
- Brief Introduction: which home/unit you are renting and why you are writing(e.g. lease termination dispute, illegal lease termination and eviction, etc.)
- State the law, and what it says (be sure to bold the key phrase “… continue to honor existing leases with a fixed term until the end of the lease term”)
- If you have a fixed term lease indicate when it began and that the foreclosure/eviction letter is therefore null and void
- Thank your landlord; Request a contact ASAP to discuss where rent needs to be sent (include phone numbers) if this has not yet been given
- Optional Section: State the 3 exceptions to the law
Respond specifically to the notice your landlord sent you and how it does not comply with the law and is therefore null and void
- Optional Section: Indicate you would like to stay beyond the 90 days period for a month to moth tenant
- Optional Section: Indicate you would like to vacate before the 90 days
Some Possible Landlord Foreclosure Tenant Situations & What to do
Situation 1: My Rental Has Been Foreclosed & I’m a Tenant Without a Written Lease
Without a written lease, a month to month tenants, or a tenants at-will, you still have rights. If you’ve received only verbal or written notice from your landlord that you are being evicted, and it is before the 90 days, then send the letter using the structure above or use our pre-made letter. You still have the right to 90 days notice. Remind them of the law.
If you’ve received a notice to appear in court, be sure to take with you copies of the response letter you sent to your landlord, the original and copies of your proof of mailing and the green return receipt from the post office, the copy of Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009.
Situation 2: My Rental Has Been Foreclosed Upon & I Have a Lease That Has Not Expired
- Send the above letter to your owner immediately.
- If you received an eviction notice, appear at all the court hearings and bring the eviction response letter you wrote, the return receipt from the post office, a copy of the law cited above (Public Law No: 111-22). If the judge is not aware of this law show him the law and explain how it entitles you to remain in the rental unit.
- Pay your rent like always, and be sure to keep copies of your rent payments
- If the sale is complete you should contact the new owner about where to send the new payments
- It is now the new owners responsibility to notify you that you must vacate at the end of your lease
- Write a letter to request your security deposit return from the previous and new owner
Situation 3: My Rental Has Been Foreclosed Upon & I’m a Section 8 Tenant
Under this Act Section 8 tenants receive these same rights as the tenants discussed above. After the foreclosure sale, any new owner must give the tenants a 90–day notice to leave if the owner intends to occupy the property as a primary residence. Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment contracts continue for these tenants, and the new owner cannot terminate the lease for reasons of a foreclosure.
Section 8 voucher tenants have additional protections: the owner who is an immediate successor in interest at foreclosure takes subject to the Section 8 voucher lease and the Section 8 Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract. So be sure to indicate in your letter that the new owner must continue to honor and is bound by both the Section 8 voucher lease and the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract that existed with the previous landlord.
Whether it’s ignorance of the law or a simple power-play by your landlord, the law is definitely on your side and with this letter you can see to it that you stay in your home or rental unit. If you’d like, we’re always here to help with our tried and trusted letters.