legal help with landlord?

I found out from a listing in my local newspaper that the house im renting is in foreclosure and scheduled for auction May 4, 2010. I have tried to contact the landlord/property manager, with no success. I was able to confront my landlord face to face about the listing and the fact that the bank who holds the loan said that their policies dealing with foreclosure properties are “24 hours notice to vacate”. I was then told by my landlord the bank had made a mistake and everything was corrected, the house was not in foreclosure, and she would try to have someone contact me to provide proof regarding the situation. The landlord-tenant association told me to send a certified letter stating that I am breaking my lease (which i still have 18 months of, not to mention the equivalent of 3 months rent fee for breaking the lease) to my landlord, the reasons why, and to pay a prorated amount of rent from the current due date to May 4th. I also had an attorney tell me to do the same things. The county told me I have approximately 40 days from the date of auction to vacate. Another attorney told me to send a certified letter stating that “i intend to pay rent upon proof of property not being in foreclosure”-except i cannot pay rent, if the landlord actually did get screwed. i decided to be responsible (i have 3 kids and 3 dogs) and make sure that no one could show up at my door and tell me i had to leave, and not be prepared. i rented a storage unit, a uhaul and signed a lease with another landlord. I can pay the prorated amount, but because of having to put down another deposit on another house, i cannot pay the full months rent for the house im currently in. After all this rambling/explanation, how would i state the letters to make sure that what i say is legal, correct and current with todays laws. ugh, advice would be great too.

Posted in Landlord Tenant Law.

2 Comments

  1. Since you have already spoken to attorneys (and I assume they were ones familiar with landlord-tenant problems), ask one of them for the wording of the letter.

  2. Wow. It sounds like you did a lot of things that complicate this instead of make it easier. Though I appreciate you’ve got 3 kids and you need to be prepared to care for them, I would think that getting answers before action would have been the more prudent course.

    Ok, I’m done flogging you for rash decisions. You have a lease with 18 months left, possibly a deposit, and your landlord facing foreclosure. You now have a second lease with a different landlord. You can’t pay both, though you may be legally obligated to do so (not to mention a 3 month breakage fee).

    Let’s deal with the easy one first – your new lease. You have to pay it. You signed a written agreement where your new landlord made their property available to you and you agreed to pay for that privilege.

    Tougher one is the old lease:

    a. No foreclosure has happened (though you saw in the paper that it might, it never happened). If it did, the bank would be the new owner. If they had delivered you a 24 hour notice to vacate, dollars to donuts that you could have fought it in landlord/tenant court (laws tend to be VERY tenant friendly).

    b. Let’s say the bank had foreclosed and you fought eviction in court and the bank nonetheless sold the property at auction. Then you were delivered a 40 day eviction notice. I’d still say you would have done very well in landlord/tenant court. After all, you have a written lease, have paid all rents on time (right?).

    c. Each of (a) and (b) are immaterial to you because you opted to move out, stop paying rent and sign a new lease with somebody else. Now you have a situation where the bank has not foreclosed, your old landlord has kept the property and is probably very angry about losing his rental income. You can be sued for those rents that are owed to him.

    All of that said – and here’s the part where I’m trying to be helpful – I’d take my chances with old landlord. Pay the prorated rent. Send a letter stating that (i) you saw the notice of foreclosure and public auction, (ii) you communicated with his lender, who said they would evict you, and (iii) you had no comfort that you would receive the benefit of your bargain – that is, the use and enjoyment of the leased property. Therefore, you consider it a default under the lease (whether there is a specific default in the lease related to landlord’s lender’s foreclosure or not) and you are terminating the lease. Assuming you gave your old landlord a deposit, I would ask for it back. (That deposit may be a negotiating point later – he might accept your termination if you give him the deposit. Since you’re on shaky legal ground, that should be something you should consider).

    Best of luck!

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