Creola Johnson, Renters Evicted en Masse: Collateral Damage Arising from the Subprime Foreclosure Crisis

62 Fla. L. Rev. 975 (2010) | | | |

INTRODUCTION :: Across the country, innocent renters are becoming victims of their landlords’ inability to avoid foreclosure on their rental properties. Many are not receiving the legal rights that they are entitled to under federal and state law. For example, Marjorie Benedum and her husband Mel Harris came home from church in December 2009 to find a sheriff’s notice on their door warning them to move out in ten days or be evicted from their Baltimore home. The notice came as a shock to Benedum and Harris as they had never failed to pay their rent on time. They learned their impending eviction was a result of a foreclosure on the property against their landlord. What the couple did not know when they found the notice of eviction is that they were entitled to stay in the property for ninety days under a new federal law. Luckily, this family learned their rights from a local attorney and did not have to immediately vacate their home, but not every family is so fortunate.

Lenders, as mortgagees, are foreclosing on homes as more and more borrowers find themselves unable to pay their mortgages. Lenders have been relying on the assumption that taking the homes via foreclosure is the best course of action since they can be resold to cover the outstanding mortgage indebtedness. Relying on such an assumption has proven to be wrong in too many instances because doing so ignores current market conditions and results in innocent people being evicted from affordable housing and in residential properties becoming vacant and public nuisances.

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