More Than 38 Percent of Foreclosed Homes in California are Rentals:Over 200,000 Tenants Directly Affected


Posted on 27 January 2011

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By Gabe Treves
Tenants Together

The foreclosure crisis continues to devastate tenants and their communities.  Earlier today, Tenants Together, California's statewide organization for renters' rights, released its third annual report, California Renters in the Foreclosure Crisis.

The report concludes that, in 2010, at least 38 percent of residential units in foreclosure in California were rentals, directly affecting over 200,000 tenants, most of whom were displaced from their home.  This massive displacement remains, first and foremost, a problem caused by banks which maintain irrational policies to displace rent-paying tenants after foreclosure and often violate existing tenant-protection laws.

The report also concludes that a significant and growing number of tenants affected by the foreclosure crisis live in multi-unit buildings.  In fact, in 2010, while the majority of renter-occupied foreclosed properties were single-family homes and condominiums, over 33 percent of the renters affected by foreclosure lived in multi-unit buildings, many of which were large apartment complexes.

Additionally, from 2009 to 2010, the foreclosure rate for single family-homes decreased almost 10 percent while the foreclosure rate for apartment buildings with 5 or more units increased almost 30 percent.  This trend is likely to continue as more loan modification programs target owner-occupied properties (which are primarily single-family homes and condominiums), while multi-unit rental properties continue to fall by the wayside and into foreclosure.

The report also highlights a number of important foreclosure-related developments, including the clarification and extension of the 2009 Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, the enactment of laws to protect tenants against utility shutoffs (SB 120) and from negative credit impacts of post-foreclosure evictions (SB 1149), the expansion of just cause for eviction laws in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Santa Monica, the revelation that banks improperly foreclosed on many of properties as part of the “robo-signing” scandal, and the launching of an investigation by the California Attorney General into the treatment of tenants after foreclosure by banks, private investors, and their agents.

Tenants Together is in a unique position to report on the human impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters. The organization operates California's only hotline exclusively for tenants in foreclosure situations. California tenants can reach the Tenant Foreclosure Hotline toll free at 1-888-495-8020 or submit an online intake form at www.tenantstogether.org/hotlineintake to get a call back from a counselor.

Once again, Tenants Together concludes its annual report with checklist of recommended action to mitigate the impact of the foreclosure crisis on tenants. Among the various proposals, the report notes that 'just cause for eviction' laws are a particularly effective and cost-free way to stop the unjust displacement of innocent renters after foreclosure and provide stability to the community at large.

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Gabe Treves is the Program Coordinator for Tenants Together, a nonprofit organization dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of California tenants to safe, decent and affordable housing.

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