May 06, 2009

Senate Passes Kerry-Gillibrand Amendment to Protect Renters in Foreclosure Crisis

Will Protect More Than 30,000 Renters Across New York

Washington, D.C. - An amendment by Senators John Kerry and Kirsten Gillibrand to protect renters from being thrown out of their homes after a foreclosure passed the Senate today as part of the larger housing bill, the Help Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009 (S. 896.)  S. Amdt. 1036, the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, ensures that tenants and families nationwide have at least 90 days to find their next home if they are renting in a building that is foreclosed upon.

"More than 30,000 renters across New York, who dutifully pay their rent on time each month, may face eviction because they live in a building that is about to be foreclosed," said Sen. Gillibrand.  "These tenants have almost no rights when a bank seizes their home.  Families without the means to find temporary housing or move into another unit can be kicked onto the streets, because their landlord failed to meet his or her obligation to pay.  This is wrong and I am proud to partner with my colleagues to pass new protections for these families."

"Renters are blameless victims in the housing crisis," said Sen. Kerry, who has previously introduced legislation to protect military families facing foreclosure.  "Tenants who do no wrong shouldn't be evicted without notice and without the necessary time to make alternative living arrangements.  This victory will prevent a spike in vacant properties in our communities and give families who don't have the means to find another place a chance to plan."

Renters often have no idea their home is about to be foreclosed upon.  Depending on state law, renters in foreclosed properties may be evicted with limited notice, forcing families to move quickly and increasing the number of vacant properties in neighborhoods.  Low-income renters who live in properties subject to foreclosure are lack the resources necessary to easily relocate.

The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act states that tenants in any federally related mortgage loan (as determined under Section 3 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) or any dwelling or residential real property with a lease have a right to remain in the unit until the end of the existing lease.  If a purchaser intends to use the property as a primary residence, the lease may be terminated and the tenant must receive 90 days notice to vacate; and tenants without a lease or with a lease terminable at will under state law must receive 90 days notice to vacate.

The amendment is cosponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Development Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), and Sens. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

"No state in the nation feels the pain of the foreclosure crisis as intensely as Nevada," said Majority Leader Reid. "The most recent statistics show that one in every 27 Nevada homes is in some stage of the foreclosure process. Homeowners suffer deeply as they struggle to keep their houses, but renters often face sudden and unjustified loss of the roofs over their heads because of foreclosure as well. Those without the money to pick up and move unexpectedly suffer the greatest trauma, and this legislation provides them deserved and overdue protections."

"A tidal wave of foreclosures is sweeping across the country and my home state of Connecticut, leaving countless victims in its wake, including many renters who are facing eviction through no fault of their own," said Chairman Dodd.  "This measure will help defend the hard-working tenants who pay their rent on time and are being unfairly forced out of their homes because their landlord is in foreclosure.  Just as we have established protections for borrowers who fell prey to predatory lending, we must also protect these often-overlooked victims of the foreclosure crisis."

"This amendment offers important protections to tenants who, through no fault of their own, are being forced out of their homes during this foreclosure crisis," said Sen. Kennedy.  "I commend Senator Kerry for offering this amendment, and I'm hopeful that it will be approved."

"Renters have been the forgotten victims of the housing crisis," said Sen. Merkley.  "It is simply unfair that these families, who followed the rules and who may have lived in their houses and apartments for years, should be forced to leave their homes by circumstances beyond their control.  I applaud Senator Kerry for bringing this issue to light and fighting for these innocent victims of the foreclosure crisis."