What to do if I just got a 3 day notice from my landlord even though the house is being foreclosed on and sold in 3 weeks?

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What to do if I just got a 3 day notice from my landlord even though the house is being foreclosed on and sold in 3 weeks?

The landlord said that we haven’t paid rent for 6 months even though I have proof that I paid for 2 months and we were advised from the bank not to pay him anymore (although it’s not in writing) because he hasn’t paid the mortgage for over 2 years and the house is being foreclosed on. The house goes up for auction in almost 3 wee ksaand I just received a 3 day notice to pay 6 months of rent ($9,600) or else we will be evicted. I think he is just trying to get money out of us before the house goes up for sale but I don’t want to be evicted either. What should I do?

Asked on January 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) The bank has no right to advise you to not pay the rent--or rather, they can offer that advice, but there's no legal basis for it. If the landlord still owns the house at the moment--that is, the foreclosure is not completed--he can evict you for nonpayment. Until the foreclosure completes, he is still the owner and the lease is still in force.

2) On the other hand, if the home has been foreclosed on already, your "landlord" is not your landlord anymore--he no longer owns the home once it's been foreclosed on. He therefore cannot evict you, since he no longer as possession of the home.

3) If the home was already foreclosed on, then the bank is currently your landlord--only they could evict you. Once the home is sold at auction, whomever buys it is the landlord and will be able to evict. Note that you should jnot pay the bank or the new owner unless and until you work out a new lease with them--though there is no reason, if you want to stay there, to not try to work out a lease.

Note that after foreclosure, the bank and/or the new owner who buys at auction may evict you, as there is no right to your possession (unless you negotiate a lease with them); however, the timing of when they can do so depends on the circumstances, since there are both state and federal law (e.g. The Helping Families Save Their Homes Act) which  allow renters in a foreclosed home to stay for several months, possibly for the balance of their lease terms. How long you could stay depends upon whether the new buyer intends to liver there or not--if he does, you only get 90 days, but if he doesn't, I believe you get longer.


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