renter http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4005/all en-US What can renters do if their landlords are in foreclosure? http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/what-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/eviction.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Lately many tenants across the United States who faithfully paid their rents on time were surprised to find eviction notices tacked on their doors because their landlords have not been paying the mortgage.&nbsp; Other tenants are receiving &quot;cash for keys&quot; offers from the banks that reposessed the homes.&nbsp; If you are a renter, here are some precautions you can take to make sure you do not face an unexpected foreclosure related eviction and also a few tips on what to do if your landlord is losing the home you live in.</p> <p>If you are living in a rental home now in a state with a high rate of foreclosure such as Nevada, Florida, or California, then you should definitely check the public records for any liens or judgments on the home you live in.&nbsp; Fortunately, many counties now have land and tax records online.&nbsp; For example, for San Mateo County you can simply search for &quot;San Mateo Tax Assessor&quot; and find the Tax Assessor's homepage.&nbsp; From there you can search for a specific address and see if the taxes are paid ontime.&nbsp; If the taxes are late or in default on the property, then that is a warning sign that the property may be in financial trouble.&nbsp; You can also search the land records to find any Notice of Defaults, which is usually the first step in a foreclosure in California.&nbsp; If public records are not available online where you live, then you could go to the county seat and search for the record at the county offices.&nbsp; Public records are available to anyone, but some offices charge a small fee to do a search for you.&nbsp; You can also find detailed information such as which bank holds the mortgage on the home, and what the mortgage amount is.</p> <p>Another way to check if the home you are renting is in financial trouble is by searching the local real estate listings.&nbsp; It is possible that your home is on the market as a short sale and your landlord did not inform you.&nbsp; If that is the case then the home is probably about to foreclose.</p> <p>If there is any sign of financial distress then it may be a good idea to speak to your landlord and ask what is going on.&nbsp; If your landlord tells you everything is okay when there is a Notice of Default in the public records, then he or she may not be completely honest with you and it is probably a good idea to find a new place and get your security deposit back.</p> <p>If you already received a &quot;cash for keys&quot; or eviction letter from the bank then you should also check the public records to see if the bank already owns the home.&nbsp; If the bank is indeed the recorded owner then you should definitely stop paying your old landlord rent.&nbsp; At this point you could either pack your bags or try to negotiate with the bank.&nbsp; Some banks may prefer to have occupied homes because they are less likely to be vandalized so in rare instances they are willing to sign new leases, but you still have to be ready to leave when the home sells.</p> <p>Eviction laws also differ from state to state so in some cases it is worthwhile to fight a foreclosure related eviction.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=525883">In this article from the Harvard Crimson</a>, a group called No One Leaves is helping renters in Boston stay in their homes and get settlements from banks because in Massachusetts foreclosure is not legal grounds for eviction.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; However, this is not true in every state so you must research if a legal battle is worthwhile for your situation.&nbsp; Fighting an eviction also makes a renter undesirable to other landlords in the future even if the renter wins so you must make sure that you are willing to take that risk.&nbsp; <br /> &nbsp;</p> <p>The good news is that the powers that be are realizing that these unjust and surprising evictions are becoming problematic for many communities.&nbsp; In July California passed a law that gives tenants a 60 day notice to leave a rental unit after the property is sold in foreclosure, and yesterday <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/15/business/15evict.html?em">Fannie Mae announced that it will not evict renters in the foreclosed homes it owns</a>.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Hopefully other banks will follow suit and keep the good renters in their homes as long as they need. For now, if you are a renter, remember to protect yourself by verifying the ownership and financial status of a home through public records. Since landlords usually run credit checks on tenants, I think it is only fair for renters to find out the financial situation of their landlords.&nbsp; Hopefully in the future landlords will be required to disclose their financial troubles for the benefit of renters.</p> <p><em><strong>Have you been evicted due to your landlord's failure to pay mortgage?&nbsp; What did you do?</strong></em><br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-check-if-your-mortgage-statement-is-correct">How to check if your mortgage statement is correct</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/could-your-city-go-bankrupt">Could Your City Go Bankrupt?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seller-funded-down-payment-assistance-charities-scammers-or-saints">Seller Funded Down Payment Assistance Charities - Scammers or Saints?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tips-for-avoiding-a-foreclosure-prevention-or-loan-modification-scam">Tips for Avoiding a Foreclosure Prevention or Loan Modification Scam</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Consumer Affairs Real Estate and Housing eviction foreclosure landlord renter Mon, 15 Dec 2008 20:53:01 +0000 Xin Lu 2649 at http://www.wisebread.com 20 Tips for Getting Your Security Deposit Back http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000000396307XSmall.jpg" alt="For rent" title="For rent" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most of my landlords have been really great, but I did experience one rather unethical property manager who tried to bilk her tenants out of every dime they had.</p> <p>Before moving out of my North Seattle apartment, I cleaned from top to bottom, bleaching the mold that formed in the closets (it was there when I moved in, and I battled it monthly), relining the cupboards with that stick-on liner so they were clean and fresh-looking. My boyfriend helped me to repair a shelf that had completely collapsed in the closet. I never wear shoes in the house, so the carpet was spotless.</p> <p>When I left, I somehow managed to forget a bicycle tire on my balcony, a spare tire that I had been meaning to patch. The balcony was so moldy and terrifying that I rarely stepped out on to it, and simply forgot that the tire was there.</p> <p>I was charged $75 for its disposal. And that's ON TOP OF the non-refundable cleaning service.</p> <p>This wasn't exactly a swanky neighborhood in which tire disposal services run at a premium. We're talking about a musty apartment only one block from the area of town known as Crack Whore Row. And it was a BICYCLE tire, not a car tire complete with wheel and hubcap. I was pissed off that I forgot it, because I could have used it, but I didn't have the energy to fight the landlord over the charge. I wish I had, because it was completely bogus. But I didn't fight the charge, even though I now know I should have raised a stink over it.</p> <p>Here are the tips I've gathered for how to be a good renter and how to get your deposit back when you move out.</p> <h2>Before You Move In</h2> <p>1. Google the leasing company, landlord's name, property name, whatever. See if you are dealing with people who are on the up and up. Check the <a href="http://www.bbb.org/">Better Business Bureau''s online business listings</a> for the leasing company's name (ask the landlord if they have a relationship with the BBB). The landlord that charged me $75 to throw away a bicycle tire had an awful web reputation &mdash; had I known that, I might never have rented the place to begin with.</p> <h2>When You Move In</h2> <p>2. Read your lease carefully. Understand everything that is contained therein. Note that leases are not set in stone. You can actually make alterations to them &mdash; nothing ridiculous &mdash; but if you find something in the lease that you find unreasonable (like being required to give two month's notice when you plan to leave), you can alter it, cross it out, or make additions to it.</p> <p>3. Your landlord SHOULD give you a checklist of rooms and ask you to detail the condition of each one. If they don't, make one up yourself. Notice any damage that exists already (dings in wood, cupboards that don't close properly). This can be extremely tedious, so make an evening of it. Invite some friends over for a few bottles of wine (or beer) and walk around the apartment, critiquing the hell out of it.</p> <p>4. If you have a digital camera, take pictures of every room, every blemish.</p> <p>5. When you have gathered all of this info, written and photographic, do a walk-through with the landlord and make sure that they sign off on the list. Mail them print-outs of the photos and the room-by-room description (make sure to send the letter certified mail) and let them know that if they don't do the walk-through with you within two weeks of receiving the info, you will assume that they have signed off on your assessment.</p> <h2>While You Live There</h2> <p>6. For goodness sake, try to be clean. Get to stains before they set. If you have pets, clean the place constantly, get an air filter, open the windows, and clean up any mess as soon as you find it. Nothing is more terrifying for a landlord than walking into an apartment and seeing that your 13 cats have made the place damn near unlivable.</p> <p>7. If you have a problem with any part of the apartment, if something breaks from normal wear and tear, the landlord is obliged to pay for it. If they don't, and you opt to fix it yourself (I had to replace a broken toilet seat and the bathtub caulking), take a picture of the before and after, and add it to your notes, including the cost of replacing the item. Bill the landlord for the item ASAP. If the landlord tries to bilk you later, you have more evidence of what a responsible tenant you were.</p> <h2>When You Leave</h2> <p>8. Whether or not you clean the place really depends on if you already paid a non-refundable cleaning deposit. I have never lived anywhere that didn't require me to pay a cleaning deposit. So I'll clean up anything egregious, like the aforementioned caulking (I so hate caulking), but the rest of the place, I leave broom-clean. If you haven't already paid a non-refundable cleaning deposit, clean the heck out of the place.</p> <p>9. Do the whole picture thing again. Make sure that the landlord does a walk-through with you, and have them sign an agreement that you have left the apartment in fair condition. Don't feel like a jerk for doing this. You have the right to protect your money and yourself.</p> <p>10. Don't assume that a super-nice landlord equals a returned security deposit. Be wary of everyone, and don't let something slip just because you think the landlord really likes you.</p> <h2>If a Landlord Tries to Bilk You</h2> <p>11. If a landlord tries to hold on to your money, demand an itemized list of the withheld money. Scrutinize it for redundancy. For instance, a landlord can't charge you to clean a carpet and then replace a carpet.</p> <p>12. Also, when it comes to replacing things, you probably aren't responsible for the entire cost of replacement, unless whatever needs replacing is brand-new and you completely destroyed it. The useful life of carpeting is generally considered to be seven years. So, if the carpet was brand spanking new when you moved in, and you ruined it, you're liable for new carpet. On the other hand, if the carpet was five years old when you moved in and six years old when you moved out, you should only be liable for the amortized value of the carpet. Assuming you are responsible for damaging the carpet and it only had one year of useful life left, you should only be on the hook for about 15% of the replacement cost.</p> <p>Same goes with paint: was the the paint brand new when you moved in? If not, you shouldn't be paying the full cost of a new paint job.</p> <p>13. Let's say you get a bill from the landlord, and they are withholding most of your deposit for made-up charges. What do you do? Know your rights. Every state has different laws regarding just how much leeway both renters and landlords are given. Do check your state Attorney General web site to see what kind of protections are afforded to you.</p> <p>14. If you think that the charges are bogus, raise a (polite) fuss. A crooked landlord is going to hope that you simply roll over and let them take your money because so many people do just that. Let them know that you believe the charges to be bogus.</p> <p>15. Write your complaints down in the form of letters and send copies to an attorney, even if you don't plan to hire an attorney. Send them to your uncle the tax attorney, if you have to. I have a friend who works as an office manager in a law firm that I can send CC's to, if I need to. I address them to her, and she tears them up. Seeing a law firm's name is often enough to get people to back down, because no one wants to deal with a lawyer.</p> <p>16. Don't let the landlord make you feel petty. If they try say something like, &quot;It's only $100!&quot;, ask them why it's so important for them to take such a small sum away from you.</p> <p>17. Keep as much of the communication in writing as possible. Verbal agreements (and disagreements) simply don't offer enough proof.</p> <p>18. Be respectful in all of your communication. You might want to say &quot;You cheap, cheap bastard! I lived in this ratty hellhole for two years and never complained about the skanky-ass conditions!&quot; but you always come off better if you are polite and well-mannered. If you do have to go to small claims court, judges will look askance at written proof of your rudeness.</p> <p>19. If you do decide to take a landlord to small claims court, if only to fight what you see as injustice (and keep in mind that if you win, you might be able to get your court fees paid for), do let them know ahead of time. This might avoid the hassle of actually going to court. However, don't make empty threats. Be prepared to litigate if you threaten to do so.</p> <p>20. If you don't get your money back, do make sure to publicize your experience. Be reasonable, but if you truly believe that you were screwed over, let other people know. Use a site like CitySearch or Yelp to enter information about the property to warn other potential renters. Make sure that you don't exaggerate or do anything that could be construed as libel.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/20-tips-for-getting-your-security-deposit-back">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-5-rules-you-need-to-know-about-investing-in-real-estate">The Only 5 Rules You Need to Know About Investing in Real Estate</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-can-renters-do-if-their-landlords-are-in-foreclosure">What can renters do if their landlords are in foreclosure?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-smart-ways-to-get-your-apartment-deposit-back">7 Smart Ways to Get Your Apartment Deposit Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-landlord-part-i">So You Want to be a Landlord? Part I</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-dumb-ways-to-scare-off-potential-homebuyers">10 Dumb Ways to Scare Off Potential Homebuyers</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Real Estate and Housing cleaning disposal landlord renter renter's rights renting security deposit small claims court tenant Sun, 15 Apr 2007 18:49:54 +0000 Andrea Karim 506 at http://www.wisebread.com