Foreclosure advice: Renters living in a foreclosure not immune to the law

Impact 5 report

ROYAL BEACH BEACH, Fla. - Renters aren't completely immune to foreclosures. What if your landlord stops paying the mortgage and the home you're renting ends up in foreclosure?

That's exactly what Royal Palm Beach mom Ronee Murphy said happened to her.

"I started getting these notices that the HOA is foreclosing on the house. I don't know that that means, personally," Murphy said.

Since she was only the renter Murphy just ignored the notices for the home's owner.

"We got used to people knocking on the door with summons for the owner of the house. It's like he's not here, he's not here. And it just got to the point where a knock on the door meant there was another summons for the owner of the house," Murphy said.

Not wise according to real estate attorney Shari Olefson.

"If you are served with a notice and are the tenant of a property I would definitely recommend that you try to reach out and contact the attorney who is filing the notice," Olefson said.  "Now I understand that sometimes tenants are not going to want to pay to have a lawyer review a document, but most people know someone who is at least familiar with those types of things. Either a banker or accountant friend or a teacher that you can show the document to and get some advice."

For Murphy, it's too late. She's been evicted. The home sold. She lost contact with the landlord and without a current lease, lost many of her rights to try to stay in the home. Olefson said having a lease is your best line of defense. If not, consider a foreclosure notice your warning.

"Definitely consider looking for a place to live and you also want to pay special attention to whomever your told to direct your rent to, to make sure you're paying your rent to the right person," Olefson said.

Since it's too late for Murphy's family, she hope others are better armed with information.

"My focus and concentration is just trying to find a place for me and my daughter, so that we can set up housekeeping and move on," Murphy said.

Renters who needs advice about a pending foreclosure can contact the Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches.  The phone number is: 877-910-FAIR (3247).

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