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Consumer Protection Week: Terry Goddard Reminds Tenants of Their Legal Rights in Foreclosures

(Phoenix, Ariz. - March 10, 2010) As foreclosures continue at a high rate in Arizona, they impact not only homeowners but also people renting properties that have gone into foreclosure. Attorney General Terry Goddard today provided information about the rights of tenants living in properties that are foreclosed.

Last May, Congress passed the “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act” to protect renters who were being forced to immediately leave their homes with little notice when the properties they rented went into foreclosure. The law remains in effect until Dec. 31, 2012.

“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, especially in housing,” Goddard said. “Both landlords and tenants should understand and follow the requirements of the new federal law. All too often consumers can be victimized if they don’t understand their rights and responsibilities.”

Under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act: 

  • All tenants must receive a 90-day notice before being evicted as the result of a foreclosure. 
  • With some exceptions, the law requires that in the event of foreclosure, existing leases for renters are honored to the end of the term of their lease.
  • The stated exceptions are for tenants without a lease, tenants with a lease terminable at will under state law, or where the owner acquiring the property will occupy it as a primary residence. In these cases, the tenants must receive a minimum of 90 days notice to vacate the property. 
  • This law does not affect the requirements of any state or local law that provides longer time periods or other additional protections for tenants. 
  • The new law does not require any agency to issue implementing regulations; these protections apply to foreclosures after May 20, 2009. 
  • Although no federal or state agency is specifically charged with enforcing the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, if a landlord tries to evict a renter without following the law, the renter may be able to raise that as a defense in eviction proceedings. 

For more information about the federal law, please visit http://thomas.loc.gov/. Arizona landlord-tenant laws can be found at www.azsos.gov.