Thursday, December 18, 2008

What if Your Landlord is in Foreclosure?

Get this. You could be dutifully paying your rent every month only and then one day find a eviction notice on your door. If your landlord isn't paying their taxes or mortgage you might be out on the street. Whether you are renting in an apartment complex or a single family home it's a good do a little snooping to could fend off surprises.

First, check with the county tax assessor. Many county assessor offices make their databases available online. This is were you'll find if the property taxes are up to date. You'll also want to see if there are any liens or judgements against the property. Any of these are a sign that the property is in trouble. If public records are not available online you can go to the court office. This information is all part of the public record and is available to anyone. However, some offices may require a small fee for the cost of the search. While you are it be sure to make note of the bank that holds the mortgage and the mortgage amount, again this is public information.

Another good place to watch is the real estate classifieds. You may or may not be able to see if the property is listed as a short sale. A short sale is a clear sign that the property is in danger, but be wary any time the property you are renting is listed for sale.

If you suspect trouble, you'll want to talk directly to the landlord. But first know your tenant rights. It's best to be armed with information. And be direct. If your landlord says that everything is "okay" yet, you have found a Notice of Default in the public record then you may want to know how to get out of your lease--without losing your deposit.

Fannie Mae announced that they will not evict renters in homes that they own. So if your landlord has defaulted on a Fannie Mae loan you won't be evicted. But not all banks may be so sympathetic.

The best advice for renters is to be proactive. Your landlord may be a nice person, but foreclosure knows no boundaries. Don't assume that this couldn't happen to you. Do your research, ask questions and again know your tenant rights.

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