How to Find Out if the House You're Renting is in Foreclosure

Empty room of house in foreclosure.
Empty room of house in foreclosure. (Image: Andy Dean/iStock/Getty Images)

Landlords and lenders are required by law to notify tenants about any pending foreclosure action against their property. In addition, the bank or new owner must give you at least 90 days notice before they can evict you if you have a signed lease. Foreclosure notices are public record. Often, you can find out if there is a problem with the rental property before the bank files a foreclosure lawsuit.

Find the Foreclosure Notice

The bank starts foreclosure proceedings by filing a Notice of Default in the courthouse of the county in which the property is located. The Notice of Default gives the homeowner -- your landlord -- one last chance to bring the mortgage payment current and cure the problem. The Notice of Default is a public notice. You can find out if the lender has filed a Notice of Default by calling or visiting the county courthouse. Ask to be put through to the County Recorder's office.

Look Up the Lawsuit

If the landlord does not respond to a Notice to Default, the bank can file a foreclosure complaint at court. By law, you should receive a notification of the compliant by mail because the lawsuit affects your ability to continue living at the property. The complaint may refer to you personally or name you as an "unknown tenant," so check all mail generically addressed to the "occupant" or "tenant." If you do not receive notice, try calling your county’s Court of Common Pleas. The clerk should be able to tell you if the bank has filed a foreclosure suit against the property.

Monitor Your Mail

When the lien holder receives a foreclosure order, he will post a Notice of Foreclosure Sale on the property. The lender's agent may hand deliver this notice to you; more usually, you will find it nailed to your front door. You should also receive a copy of the notice in the mail addressed to "the Occupant." (reference 2) If you have not done so already, you should at this point contact the lender's attorney on the telephone number listed on the Notice and let them know you are the tenant. Under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 you have certain rights to remain in your home.

Exercise Your Right to Remain

In most cases, you have the right to continue renting the foreclosed property until the end of your lease. However, if the new owners want to occupy the property as their main home or if you have a month-to-month lease, then the new owners can give you a 90-day notice to quit. You must vacate the property by the date specified in the notice or the new owner can file for eviction. Special rules apply to section 8 tenants. You are urged to contact a lawyer or housing agency to learn your rights.

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