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Renters Beware – Landlords Renting Foreclosures

By Oppenheim Law on Foreclosure, News & Media, Real Estate & Roy Oppenheim

Charles: It is a sign of these tough economic times. Foreclosures are on the rise, spiking up again last month. Add it all up and it’s beginning to spell “renter beware.” We’ll turn to Jeff Weinsier who’s live in Fort Lauderdale with a cautionary tale.

Jeff: Charles, the Local 10 Problem Solvers have been flooded with these calls. You have a signed lease, you pay your rent on time, but the bank has all of a sudden taken over, and they’re going to want you out.

Bridget: We hadn’t even finished unpacking yet, okay, and I’m having to start repacking again. Because I don’t know when they’re going to come and tell me to get out.

Jeff: Bridget Hardy rented this Pembroke Pines house just last month. She learned the house was in foreclosure when she was served with papers the day she moved in, and she’s already handed the landlord the first and last month’s rent plus a security deposit.

Bridget: I’m in the hole now for $5,879.

Jeff: In Coconut Creek, it’s a similar story for renter Tracy Grimshaw. She says she’s paid the rent but Washington Mutual says her landlord hasn’t paid the mortgage.

Tracy: I have literally paid these people $12,240 since December 15th of 2007.

Jeff: Unfortunately, it’s happening all over South Florida these days, and a prominent real estate attorney we spoke to say that there are some things you can do to make sure that this doesn’t happen to you.

Roy: We all would have to turn the tables on, on the landlords today, especially on the small landlords where you’re either renting a townhouse, or you’re renting a single-family home. You have to do the kind of due diligence, the kind of homework that normally a landlord would do of a tenant.

Jeff: Do a credit check and a title check on the landlord, see if the homeowners association is being paid. Go to a county website and do a records check on the landlord.

Bridget: No, we didn’t know to do that. We really did not know to do that.

Jeff: Tracy Grimshaw wished she’d talked to neighbors before she moved in.

Tracy: First day I moved in here, the neighbors were at my door…

Jeff: Saying?

Tracy: Good luck.

Jeff: And as far as suing the landlord for not fulfilling his or her part of the lease?

Roy: If the guy couldn’t pay the mortgage, he’s not going to have any assets for you to collect on, so it becomes somewhat futile.

Jeff: And attorney Roy Oppenheim says if a landlord is knowingly in foreclosure and enters into a lease and collects your money that could be considered fraud, but Charles, we all know that hiring an attorney and going through the process is extremely, extremely expensive. The bottom line here, do your homework as a renter.

Charles: I was going to say, with no recourse, if there’s any lesson in all of this is, like you said, Jeff, do your homework. Thank…