I’ve been renting for three years found out a bank has deed to property who should I be paying rent to legy

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I’ve been renting for three years found out a bank has deed to property who should I be paying rent to legy

I don’t know who to pay rent to

Asked on May 7, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If the bank is now the owner, legally, the rent should be paid to the bank or to its designated representative or managing agent. You  would not pay to the former owner, since if the property was deeded to the bank, he or she no longer has any right to the rent: not owning it, he or she cannot give you possession, or the right to use and occupy the property, and so has no legal basis for receiving rent.
HOWEVER, depending on the circumstances under which the bank took over the property, it may have terminated your tenancy and they may be able to evict you. Generally, though,  if they voluntarily accept rent from you, they in doing so agree to accept you as a tenant--though if they do so without a written lease for a definite time (e.g. a one-year lease) which they offer to you, you would only become a month-to-month tenant, which means your tenancy could be terminated and you could asked to leave on a month's notice.
Hence this is a vulnerable situation for you: either your tenancy is already over, or it likely can be readily ended.
You may wish to withhold rent until someone (e.g. the bank or bank representative) comes forward with proof that they are entitled to it--and if/when they do, you may wish to take your withheld rent and use it to move to a more secure rental situation unless they agree to enter into a formal lease with you. If you are going to do this, send the person you had been paying rent to a letter, sent some way you can prove delivery, stating that you have found out that they apparently deeded the propety to the bank (and explain how you know this) and are withholding rent pending proof that they are entitled to it. The letter should be non-confrontational and professional, but just seek information and proof of the right to payment. This will put them on notice to furnish you evidence that they are entitled to the rent, in case the information you found out about the deed is incorrect and the person you have been paying to is still entitled to collect.
We do not recommend reaching out affirmatively to the bank--though you should reply if they contact you--because if this is a case where they have "forgotten" about you, you don't want to remind them that there is someone in the property and they should be removing you from it. If they reach to you, you need to dialogue with them, but you don't need to be the one to prod them and remind them to do something about this property. Banks are not property managers: it is not uncommon for them to lose track of properties or simply not act efficiently in regards to them for months or longer.


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