Recommendations for tenants facing possible foreclosure
- GET A COPY OF THE LEASE IN WRITING. If the property transfers to another owner, the written lease still has some legal standing. If the lease is only verbal, or if you don't have a copy of it, then it's easier for the new landlord to ask you to leave.
- STAY CURRENT ON RENT. This will strengthen a tenant’s defense in case of a foreclosure.
- KEEP GOOD RECORDS. Maintain a copy of the lease, and request and save receipts for rent, security deposit and utility payments. Another way to provide proof of payment is to purchase a money order or use a personal check to pay for rent and utilities.
- PROVIDE PROOF OF IDENTITY. If the sheriff arrives at the door to serve eviction papers, tenants should state that they are a renter, not the owner, and that they have received no notice of the situation
- GET A LAWYER. Free legal representation is often available and can be arranged through the Lawyers Committee for Better Housing at (312) 347-7600 and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago at (312) 341- 1070. Referrals to legal help can be made through the Metropolitan Tenants Organization hot line at (773) 292-4988.
- NEGOTIATE. Cutting a deal with the new owner’s lawyer can save the trouble of appearing in court, and could keep the word “eviction” off a renter’s record. Between the time that a judge orders an eviction and the sheriff arrives to do the eviction, tenants have an opportunity to vacate the property without permanently damaging their rental records. To avoid permanent damage on a renter’s record, the renter can have an order of eviction vacated in court.
- IF ALL ELSE FAILS -- WHEN THERE’S NO ONE TO ACCEPT THE RENT. State law requires a tenant to be current on the rent in order to remain in an apartment for additional time after a foreclosure. In some instances, however, the landlord is no longer available to collect rent, preventing tenants from making payments. Experts suggest tenants band together to share the cost of common utilities because in court an argument can be made that this is an acceptable form of payment toward rent.
Keep constant watch on public records that may indicate that foreclosure is imminent (I, Dee, am doing this, though you shouldn't necessarily rely on me to do it)
- http://CookCountyClerkOfCourt.org/ > Online Case Info > Full Electronic Docket Search > Chancery Division > search for defendent's name "Valentino", or (rarely) "1509 N California"
- Cook County Recorder of Deeds, http://ccrd.info/ > Property Identification Number (PIN) Search > 16-01-200-013-0000
- if there's an item that mentions "lis pendens", that means it's a public notice to vested interests about an upcoming lawsuit related to the property
the Municipal Code of Chicago, 5-12-095, Tenants’ notification of foreclosure action
(a) Within seven (7) days of being served a foreclosure complaint, as defined in 735 ILCS 5/15-1504, an owner or landlord of a premises that is the subject of the foreclosure complaint shall disclose, in writing, to all tenants of the premises that a foreclosure action has been filed against the owner or landlord. An owner or landlord shall also disclose, in writing, the notice of foreclosure to any other third party who has a consistent pattern and practice of paying rent to the owner or landlord on behalf of a tenant.
Before a tenant initially enters into a rental agreement for a dwelling unit, the owner or landlord shall also disclose, in writing, that he is named in a foreclosure complaint.
The written disclosure shall include the court in which the foreclosure action is pending, the case name, and case number and shall include the following language:
“This is not a notice to vacate the premise. This notice does not mean ownership of the building has changed. All tenants are still responsible for payment of rent and other obligations under the rental agreement. The owner or landlord is still responsible for their obligations under the rental agreement. You shall receive additional notice if there is a change in owner.”
(b) If the owner or landlord fails to comply with this section, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement by written notice. The written notice shall specify the date of termination no later than thirty (30) days from the date of the written notice. In addition, if a tenant in a civil legal proceeding against an owner or landlord establishes that a violation of this section has occurred, he shall be entitled to recover Two Hundred and no/100 Dollars ($200.00) in damages, in addition to any other damages or remedies that the tenant may also be entitled.
A penalty of $200 is miniscule compared to what the landlord already owes in other bills. He knows we're unlikely to get that money since he owes so many other people. So I don't know if we can rely on this being a strong enough incentive. Also, being notified 7 days AFTER a foreclosure begins still isn't terribly useful — foreclosures can go through in a few weeks.