Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I guess it's a sign of the times, but I received an email from a tenant in distress last night--yeah, on New Year's Eve. What is is with landlords that they can't at least behave themselves on major holidays? This one was demanding rent after the building had been foreclosed. How difficult is it for landlords to understand that once the lender has taken the building back, the tenants don't have to pay rent to them?

And this morning our local newspaper actually suggested that the State Legislature (and the Governor) stand up to the lender community and "evaluate borrowers for alternatives to foreclosure, such as loan modification, before filing notices of default." And this would accomplish what? Many lenders already spend months evaluating homeowners for loan modifications, and then foreclose on the property, sometimes in the middle of negotiations. Nasty folk, these, and the only legislation likely to have any effect is that FORCING them to behave themselves. State lawmakers could, for instance, enact a foreclosure eviction moratorium, similar to that already enacted in some California communities, that would protect both former homeowners and tenants from eviction after foreclosure. That's an easy and entirely non-bureaucratic solution that doesn't depend of the kindness of lenders.

But expecting that our State Legislature to do anything this sensible is asking more than can be reasonably hoped. After all, these are the people who didn't require that tenants in soon-to-be-foreclosed properties receive a copy of the Notice of Default on the grounds that it violated the landlord's privacy rights. The Notice of Default is a public document, filed with the County Recorder. Or the Governor, who determined that tenants did not have the right to return of their security deposits because it would be too much of a burden for lenders. I guess it's okay to thieve from tenants.

Happy New Year, anyway.

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