Tenants in Foreclosure- Threatened Eviction
I utilized the form letter on http://foreclosurehelp.oregon.gov/DCBS/foreclosurehelp/docs/tenant_foreclosure_rights.pdf to draft a letter to my landlords letting them know that I would be applying my security deposit towards my July and half of the August rent. I sent the letter to them on the first of the month and within a couple of hours I had an email back from them saying that;
• The home was no longer in foreclosure
• The state and federal laws did not apply in this case
• Our agreement states that as long as we are in the home we need to pay rent
• That if we did not pay the rent by 9am on the 2nd they would send us a late notice and then if payment was not received within 7 days they would proceed with the eviction process
The landlord’s response was wrong on so many levels and I really didn’t know where to start so I just let it sit to see what they would do. Well, they did as they said and on the 2nd they sent a certified letter to my home saying that I was late and if I didn’t pay within 7 days they would expect my family to vacate the home.
Since the landlord was unlawful on so many different levels I really didn’t know where to start. I again spent the time calling their mortgage company, calling the trustee and even going to the county to verify the home was in fact still in foreclosure. The trustee and county have to provide the information because it is public record. The mortgage company on the other hand cannot tell you much unless they receive written authorization from the home owners. Still, if you keep your questions very general on the process they can usually give you some helpful information.
Everyone kept suggesting I retain an attorney to help, but I saw no reason why I should spend the money on an attorney to tell the landlords what I already knew. I really felt that I was so obviously right and they were so obviously wrong that this should be a battle I can manage on my own. Still, I did have some help from a friend who is a retired attorney to review my response before sending it off.
My response citing several laws landlord/tenant laws they were in violation. I started by research by turning to a book that I’ve used for year as a landlord titled Landlord/Tenant Rights in Oregon by Janay Ann Haas (http://www.amazon.com/Landlord-Tenant-Rights-Oregon-Janay/dp/1551804298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280164763&sr=8-1 ). This gave me a good place to start and then I dug deeper into the legislation http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors/090.html and it was very helpful, but rather cumbersome to find information in. My response:
• Again stated that I stood behind my July 1 letter and according to SB 952 and ORS 86.765 I am able to apply my security deposit towards the rent when the home is in foreclosure.
• Cited that our rental contract states that rent is not late until after 5pm on the fifth day of the month, so his demand for payment by 9am on the 2nd does not supersede that.
• ORS 90.385 prohibits a landlord from retaliating by servicing a notice to terminate tenancy or by bringing or threatening to bring action for possession after the tenant has performed or expressed intent to perform any other act for the purpose of asserting, protecting or invoking the protection of any right secured to tenants under any federal, state or local law. Under this we would be entitled to remedies provided under ORS 90.275.
• In addition to the wrongful notice mentioned ORS 90.394 and 90.155 and how they were not providing a proper nonpayment notice or following the correct timelines outlined in these statutes.
• I also let them know that according to our rental agreement we can seek for repayment of any attorney fees we incur in defending ourselves against their unlawful behavior.
The letter seemed to work because within a day or two I received an email from the landlords saying they were seeking legal council and would get back to us in a few days. A few days later they said they would continue renting month to month to us per the terms we had outlined in the letter.
A small victory. I still don’t know if and when the home will be sold for sure, possibly as soon as the end of August.
One thing I’ve been tackling with though is why have the landlords acted this way? I have been a model tenant and it seems they really do want to keep the home and continue to collect my rent payments. Are they are just desperate? Do they really not understand the situation they are in?