Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Couple of Notes on Foreclosure

First, there have been a bunch of stories noting that foreclosures have increased since March.  That happens every year.  With a couple of notable exceptions during the depth of the crisis, foreclosures are always higher in the second and third quarters, lower in the first and fourth.  So you want to look at the year-over-year, and foreclosures are falling.  They should be, given the number of people who have already lost their homes. A lot of properties that homeowners might have struggled to keep on through the ARM rate adjustment in 2012 were, in fact, owned by landlords who bailed when prices collapsed.

Second, most of what I hear from tenants makes me angry.  But every so often I get a story that's more than just ordinarily appalling.  You know, stories where the bank just changes the locks on the tenants or turns off the water or whatever.  Nasty, piggy behavior.  Even as the crisis lessens, though, there are still some of those.  To wit: a California homeowner rented out rooms in his home.  One was rented in 2012, and two in 2013. The foreclosure sale was this week.  "Wait," you say, "the landlord must have known when he rented out at least two of the rooms that the building was about to be foreclosed."  Yes, indeed.  "But, surely," you say, "the owner told the tenants what was happening.  Or they saw mail lying around the house."  You've gotta be kidding.  The landlord is squeezing as much blood as possible on the way out the door.

In this case, it gets worse.  The landlord has been offered a "cash for keys" agreement if the property is vacated within 15 days, and the landlord wants the tenants to move so that he can collect the money. Yeah.  Unfortunately there's an exemption in California's foreclosure protections, just for tenants who live in the same unit as the owner.  It may be that the Legislature really believes that no owner would keep such information from people sleeping in the next room.  It may also be that tenants who rent rooms are low-income and not worthy of the protection afforded even other tenants.

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