On March 13, 2015, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced a bill seeking to extend the protections of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (the Act) permanently. The Act, which expired December 31, 2014, provided protection for tenants living in a foreclosed property.
According to Sen. Blumenthal, “[f]amilies who pay their rent and play by the rules should not be evicted simply because their landlord fails to pay his mortgage. This measure is necessary to protect tenants from eviction when their landlord defaults. The Act that protected them previously expired in 2014, so tenants may now be evicted, inexplicably and inexcusably when the building owner faces foreclosure. As a matter of common sense and basic fairness, families should be spared life on the street when landlords shirk their obligations.”
Originally enacted on May 20, 2009, the Act provided a minimum of 90 days before tenants could be evicted from properties that had been foreclosed. In many cases, “bona fide” tenants were allowed to remain in the properties until the conclusion of their designated lease period. The Act served as the only national tenant protection law; tenants’ rights to remain in a foreclosed property vary widely on a state by state basis. Currently, nine states and the District of Columbia offer the same protection as the Act, eight states provide notice of three to thirty days, eight states allow for immediate eviction, and nineteen states have no statutory provisions for tenants following foreclosure.
While mortgage lenders and servicers are no longer legally bound by the Act, many of the nation’s top servicers continue to voluntarily follow the Act’s provisions.However, this may change as local statutory redemption periods of foreclosures completed during or before December 2014 continue to expire.