What you don’t want is to come home after living in your rented house for 3 months to find a sheriff’s notice stapled to the front door leaving you scrambling for vacant storage units to store your stuff while you find a new place to live. This scenario is more common than you may think with the ever increasing number of people facing foreclosure.
Homeownership as the American Dream is being replaced with the new Amercian Dream which is renting a place while saving money – at least this is what the new dream is for younger Americans.
If you find yourself looking to rent again, or if you are renting for the first time, you may want to know that there are some steps you can take to protect yourself to an extent from being a victim similar to how we started this article.
Know your rights as a renter – one new law that you may not know about is the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009. This law centers around you as a renter having a 90 day grace period to vacate the property that is being foreclosed by a lender. You also have the right to live in a property for which you have a lease through the term of the lease if the house is sold to a new owner. If the new owner wants to live in the property then you will have a 90 period of time to vacate before the new owner can legally evict you.
Find out if the home is in foreclosure – to do this you will need to get in touch with a title company to have them get information on the property from the courthouse if you are renting a home from a private individual. Also, try asking a real estate agent. You should not ask the agent who is renting you the home, or who is representing the home owner. Get an independent to help you. Offer to pay them money or buy them lunch for their help.
Don’t be shy – if your rented house or apartment has physical problems bring them to the attention of the landlord. They have a legal obligation to provide you with habitable living conditions in good repair – the home systems like heating and AC as well as appliances are required to be in working order.
Don’t be afraid to try negotiation and barter – we believe that the old adage: "you never know ’til you ask" is true for just about anything related to real estate and renting a home. There is no harm in asking – the landlord can only say no. But they never have the chance to say no if you don’t ask the question. They may surprise you, especially if there is a glut of homes for rent on the market. Try talking to the landlord about you doing some minor home repairs in lieu of rent payments.
Document everything – the only way that you can protect yourself in the event that you have to go to court for something – like complaining about the loud neighbor parties – is to put it in writing and save it. If you have to question whether you should keep it, then chances are you should.
Check the BBB – you may be able to find something out about the property management company with the BBB if there have been complaints.
Bottom line, you do have rights as a renter. Every state has different versions of renters’ rights for their state. You can find more information at HUD.gov.