Thursday, July 03, 2008

Protecting rights of renters in foreclosed properties

In the midst of this foreclosure crisis, we are doing everything we can to keep Los Angeles residents in their homes – including renters who have paid their rent on time and are good tenants. They are truly innocent victims in this mess.

Today we sent a loud and clear message to lenders and their agents: Los Angeles has laws designed to protect tenants’ rights and we are going to enforce them.

Along with Councilmember Bernard Parks and City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, I visited the home of Cynthia Spears and Armenta Mallory (who are pictured here with Cynthia's mother Dolores). Cynthia and Armenta live in an apartment that was foreclosed by Countrywide Bank.

Recently, they received letters from an agent of Countrywide telling them to vacate their apartments by August 1 and offering them $1,000 in relocation assistance. It might sound good, but city laws prevent tenants from being evicted simply because a property's ownership changes hands. Also, if a landlord does decide to pursue a "no fault" eviction, the minimum relocation fee is $6,810.

Cynthia sought assistance from the City of Los Angeles, and today, we announced that the Countrywide agent that handled Spears's and Mallory's apartment building has agreed to rescind their notice. The women and their families will be able to stay in their apartments.

Renters who might be in similar situations are encouraged to get help as soon as possible by calling 3-1-1 and asking to be connected to the city's Housing Department. More information is also available on the Los Angeles Housing Department website.