Following foreclosure, can new owner raise tenant's rent?

May 14, 2013 17:54 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

The house we rent was foreclosed on and then sold by the bank. There are still 6 months left on the lease and the new owners want to raise the rent and get a new security deposit (even though our original deposit was not returned). Is this legal?  If not, whom should I contact to resolve the issue?              

Consumer Ed says: 

The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), a federal law, specifically addresses your issue.  The PTFA was signed into law on May 20, 2009 and protects tenants when the property they rent is sold at a foreclosure sale.  The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act extended the PTFA protections until December 31, 2014.   Even though the PTFA is a federal law, it still applies to state court eviction proceedings.

If you originally entered into your lease before the notice of foreclosure, then the new owners bought the property subject to your rights as a tenant.  In other words, your lease did not end when the property was sold at foreclosure, and the new owners must recognize your original lease.  If the new owners will not use the house as their primary residence, then they must allow you to stay in the house and pay rent until the end of your original lease.  However, the new owners only have to give you 90 days’ notice to vacate the property if they are in fact going to occupy the house (you’d still have 90 days to vacate, even if there were less than 90 days remaining on your lease).

While you remain in the house (either for the remainder of your lease or for the 90 days), the new owners cannot raise your rent or require a new security deposit.  You will still have to pay rent, but you will pay the same rent required under your original lease to the new owners of the house.  If you don’t pay rent, the new owners can go to court to have you evicted; they can also have you evicted if you stay in the house after your lease expires (or after the 90 days’ notice period).
 
If the new owners continue to insist that you pay additional rent and/or an additional security deposit, you should contact an attorney to address your specific case.  The State Bar of Georgia (404-527-8700 or 800-334-6865) can give you information to help you locate an attorney, or you could contact your local Georgia Legal Services Program office (www.glsp.org).  You may also pursue an issue with your landlord on your own through the local magistrate court.  In the event you cannot afford an attorney, you may want to contact an organization that deals with landlord-tenant disputes, like Atlanta Legal Aid (www.atlantalegalaid.org).

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Landlord is letting house we rent go into foreclosure

June 7, 2012 17:51 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed: 

We have been leasing a home since July 2010.  Our lease is set to expire in August 2012.  We just found out today that the landlord has let the rental home go into foreclosure, with a sale date of July 3.  Whom do we notify, advising them of our lease?

Consumer Ed says: 

First, you should know that, until at least the end of 2014, under the Federal “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009,” tenants have the right to stay in a foreclosed property through the end of their lease, unless the new owner is planning to make the foreclosed property his or her primary residence. In that case, the owner may terminate your lease, but you must be given 90 days’ notice to vacate the premises.  If you don’t have a written lease, if your lease is month-to-month, or if there are fewer than 90 days left on your lease, you are still entitled to 90 days’ notice.

You will want to notify in writing the bank that is foreclosing on the home of your lease. The simplest way to find the bank’s identity is to ask your landlord for that information.  If your landlord is unresponsive, there are other ways to identify the bank.  In Georgia, sale of foreclosures must be advertised at least once a week for four weeks immediately before the date of sale (in this case, July 3). Rather than searching through newspapers, you can go to this website, http://georgiapublicnotice.com, to search for the advertisement. Note that you may not be able to find who put out the ad by simply searching the address, since the address is not required to be included in the notice.

If the bank hasn’t been publishing the sale as the law requires, then you may be able to find out the name of the bank that foreclosed on your landlord by searching for the deed stating the foreclosure (it will state the date of foreclosure and the name of the bank).  Deeds are public records, and you should be able to search for it at your county’s clerk’s office by using the property’s address.  Many, but not all, counties have their tax assessor’s records online.  If your county doesn’t have its records available online through its own website, this website may help: www.gsccca.org.

Once you do find out which bank owns the home, call the bank and tell them about your lease (if they don’t already know, which they may).  Ask if there is a management company temporarily in charge of the rental home, and if so, the contact information of someone whom you can call directly if there are any problems with the apartment (leaky faucet, etc.). And, don’t forget to ask where to send your July rent check.

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Is new home owner responsible for old propane bill?

August 17, 2011 22:49 by Consumer Ed

Dear Consumer Ed:  

I recently purchased a home in Albany, Georgia, which was foreclosed upon several months ago.  It is serviced by a propane gas company that is saying that since the previous owner did not pay for the gas in the tank, it is now my responsibility some four months later. The home was purchased as is. Do I have to pay for the gas?

Consumer Ed says: 

It depends.  You need to determine who owns your propane tank and whether there are any agreements or contracts regarding the tank.  Typically the propane company maintains ownership of and liability for the propane tank, unless the property owner has chosen to purchase the tank outright.

Ask the company for a copy of the agreement regarding the service of the tank, a record of the amount of propane that was in the tank when you purchased the home, and the billing and payment history for the gas. If the gas was not paid for and if you have been using the gas as the new homeowner, then chances are the bill is your responsibility. If the gas was not paid for, and if it was used by the previous homeowner prior to your purchasing the property, the bill would be for arrears (or past due amount) that the previous owner should be responsible for.   For future reference, have details like this one made a part of closing documents.

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