Friday, October 24, 2008

Renters in foreclosed properties have rights, too!

Echo Park resident Jonny Lee (pictured at right) couldn't believe he had become one of the people he had been reading about in the newspaper. He received a threatening notice from his new landlord -- Countrywide Home Loans -- because his building's previous owner had fallen into foreclosure.

Mr. Lee was offered 48 hours to consider two choices: he could leave on his own within 30 days and receive a $2,000 relocation fee or he could wait and be evicted in 30 days.

What Mr. Lee didn't know is that Countrywide's actions in this case - pressuring a renter to leave solely because of a foreclosure and offering $2,000 in relocation fees -- both violate city law.

According our laws, a change in building ownership due to foreclosure is not by itself an adequate reason to evict a tenant, and tenants must be notified of their rights in these situations. In the event that eviction is justified following a foreclosure, tenants are also entitled to a relocation fee in the minimum amount of $7,000.

This morning I sent Countrywide a letter regarding their involvement with the Echo Park triplex where Mr. Lee lives, and demanding that they cease and desist illegal foreclosure-related eviction practices. This is not the first time that I have been notified of these kind of tactics being used by Countrywide. I am watching and going to make sure that they follow the laws we have in place to protect renters from fraudulent or predatory practices.

Tenants have rights, even if they live in properties that are being foreclosed. Tenants who believe they are being pressured to vacate a foreclosed property or are being offered relocation fees below the minimum $7,000 for good faith evictions may seek advice from the Los Angeles Housing Department by calling 1-866-557-RENT.