Every Friday, I ask my followers on Twitter to send me their legal questions anonymously. I choose one question to answer on the blog the following week. Here is last week’s question:
I was leasing a property from my uncle, but he lost it at foreclosure and now the new owner is threatening that he can kick me out. Is that true?
The short answer is: It depends. In 2009, the Federal government passed the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. It is designed to protect existing tenants from eviction that have a valid lease. In most cases, tenants will have a minimum of 90 days from the date title is transferred to the new owner before they can be evicted. However, that new owner must comply with very specific notice requirements advising the tenant of the eviction. If your new owner has not done that, you may have a valid defense to any eviction.
Further, if you have a valid lease, you will generally be permitted to stay in the residence until the end of the lease unless the purchaser is going to move in to the property as their primary residence. So, if a bank has purchased the property it is more likely that you will be able to stay to the end of your lease. Either way, you must still receive the 90 days proper notice before you can be evicted.
This law only applies if you are a “bona fide” tenant — leases between children, spouses, or parents of the mortgager are not protected. You may need to prove that the lease with your uncle was an “arm-length’s transaction” — meaning that both parties were acting as they would in any normal marketplace and there was no “special deal” just because you were his niece. Your rent must also be fair market value for the lease to be considered “bona fide.” You should speak with an attorney who can advise you about the specifics of the law in this rapidly changing area.
The foregoing is to be used as a guideline only and is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship. You should consult with an attorney regarding the specific facts of your case.
© Junilla Sledziewski, 2012