Saturday, May 31, 2008

A housing law we need

The Republican reports that foreclosure rates in Hampden County were three times as high this April as the April before.

Many people seem to don't have a lot of sympathy for the owners of foreclosed properties. But what about the tenants?

I drove an old friend "home" last night. She told me she was looking for another place to live because the three family house she and her son were living in had been foreclosed on. The weird thing about it was that the house was in foreclosure three months before she moved in; the owner knew it and didn't tell her. Turns out I know the guy who lives downstairs from my friend, he's the son of an Arise member. He'll be out on the street, too.

The owner told me friend that she should go ahead and look for another apartment, and that on the day she found one, he would write her a check for first month's and security at the new place if she agreed to sign a paper abandoning all future claims. She agreed to do that, and she's found two different apartments and notified the owner, but somehow the check was never given!

Tenants in foreclosed properties don't have many rights in Massachusetts. the mortgage companuies who buy the properties want tenants-- even very good, longterm tenants. -- put out before they buy. The Massachusetts Trial Court Law Library has information on some tenant right, but what exists isn't very substantial, and even so, many landlords and mortgage companies don't follow it.

How about a law that requires landlords to inform potential tenants if their property is in foreclosure? The legislative session is almost finished for this year, so such a law couldn't even be introduced until the fall. But something needs to be done. Tenants in foreclosed properties do not deserve to suffer because property owners want to squeeze every last penny they can out of their housing.

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