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Tenants Get New Rights When Homes Are Foreclosed

There are any number of reasons why foreclosures are awful and one of them concerns tenants: Until new legislation was signed by President Obama last month tenants could be evicted from a foreclosed home, regardless of whether or not they had a lease or paid their rent in full and on time.

Now, however, the old rules are out and very much better rules are in. Under the?,? Helping Families Save Their Homes Act of 2009, tenants now have new rights.

First, a bona fide tenant must get at least 90 days notice before an eviction.

Second, if a bona fide tenant has a lease, the tenant may stay on the property until the end of the remaining term, except if the buyer of the foreclosure is going to occupy the property as a prime residence — then there must be 90 days notice.

Third, in some cases tenants may be able to hold over even longer. This would be the case for any Federal- or State-subsidized tenancy or of any State or local law that provides longer time periods or other additional protections for tenants.

Bona Fide Tenants

Notice that the legislation does not protect all tenants — only bona fide tenants. Okay, so who is a bona fide tenant?

First, if the borrower or the child, spouse, or parent of the borrower under the contract is not the tenant;

Second, if the lease or tenancy was the result of an arms-length transaction; and

Third, if the lease or tenancy requires the receipt of rent that is not substantially less than fair market rent for the property or the unit’s rent is reduced or subsidized due to a Federal, State, or local subsidy.

For a good explanation of the new rules, see the information posted by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Must A Landlord Fix The Clothes Washer

When you rented the property it was offered to you with certain features. You, as a tenant, have an obligation to do routine maintenance — such as change light bulbs and clean lint filters — while landlords typically have an obligation to make capital repairs above a dollar amount specified in the lease.

If a working dryer was included with the property and it fails, then the landlord should have it fixed or replaced, consistent with the requirements of the lease and any local housing regulations. Moreover, this should be done with reasonable speed so you’re not inconvenienced.


Syndicated originally by Content That Works and posted with permission.

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Can A Landlord Enter Without Notice When Selling?

Question: I\’m a renter who has no contract with the landlord. I pay rent month-to-month. The owners’ recently put the home up for sale, and the real state broker put a lockbox on my door. Do they have the right to come in while we are gone or do they have to wait until we are at home? Is there some notice that they will have to give?

Answer: When you rent property a landlord has a right to enter to make repairs and in certain other limited circumstances. If possible,
notice should be given but that’s not always practical or reasonable.

You are now renting on a month-to-month basis. That means the landlord — or you — can end the tenancy, usually with a month’s notice. Leases typically contain a clause which says that during the last month or two of the rental period the landlord may show the property to prospective buyers or replacement tenants. Many leases also have a clause which allows the use of a lockbox.

Specific rules vary by jurisdiction. As you do not have a written lease you may want to ask a local housing agency what’s permitted in your community.

That said, the owner would benefit from a home which is neat and well-prepared for showing, thus it would be in everyone’s interest to provide notice when possible. Given buyer schedules, however, notice may not always be practical — such as when someone is just driving by the property with a broker and suddenly has an urge to see the home.

Syndicated originally by Content That Works and posted with permission.

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Must My Landlord Repair A Hot Water Heater?

Question: I have been renting a house that prior to my move in had major water damage to the basement and ruined the water heater. It has been fixed to the point where it will work, but causes a horrible smell throughout the house if left on. Therefore I only turn it on an hour before I shower or use hot water. If hot water heater is left on too long it will start leaking water and flooding the basement. The flame inside is too big and burning the inside and outside of the water heater. This is causing the walls, curtains, blinds and my personal items to turn black from the fumes. The landlord has made no effort to fix the problem. What next?

Answer: Get out. This is a matter of health and safety. A malfunctioning hot water heater can be a serious cause for concern, both for you and the property. As a flame is involved, contact the local fire marshal — then call the housing department. You can bet that appropriate repairs will be made immediately.
Syndicated originally by Content That Works and posted with permission.

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Should I rent or sell my property?

A number of questions should be asked, including:

___If you rent, can you rent and have a positive cash flow?

___Are property values in your community generally rising?

___What are the tax implications of each choice? Speak with a tax professional for details.

___Does your community have rent control (about 200 areas now have rent control)? If so, what are your obligations? Note that in some cases if you are only renting one or two houses you may be exempt from rent control, but only if you file for an exemption. See a real estate broker or attorney for details.

___Will you need or want a professional manager? Speak with several brokers for details.

___If you were to sell, is there a better place to put your money?

___Do you have a personal preference that favors one choice or the other?

___Do you want to be in the real estate business? Renting a house or houses does exactly that.

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Is it ever better to rent than to own?

There are at least several cases where renting may be more attractive than ownership.

___ You will be in an area for a short period of time, say five years or less.

___ The local economy is bad and getting worse, employment levels are dropping.

___ Better returns with equal risk are available elsewhere.

___ Your future income will not be enough to support house payments.

___ You’re in the midst of marital turmoil (divorce).

___ Home prices are declining in the local market and further declines seem likely.

___The local population is declining.

___You can rent for far less than than the monthly cost of an equivalent property.


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I need to move. How can I break my lease?

You cannot break a lease without consequences. After all, if tenants can break a lease then why can’t property owners?

If you need to move but have time remaining on a lease, the best approach is to contact the owner or property manager, explain the situation, and offer to help find a new tenant. It may then be possible, by mutual agreement, to modify lease arrangements. Most landlords will appreciate such an offer, recognize that the alternative situation may be costly for everyone, and will try to work out a practical solution.

Be prepared — indeed offer — to pay reasonable advertising costs up to a set amount incurred by the owner to re-let the property.

If it is not possible to change the lease terms by mutual, written, agreement, then both parties are obligated to complete all terms of the rental contract. However, some lease agreements have “out” clauses which allow for early termination, such as relocation to a new job that is at least 50 miles away from the old one. Most leases also have a “military clause” so that those called to active military duty can end a lease early without penalty.

For details, read your lease and see a legal clinic, attorney, or local public housing office.

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Can a computer help me decide whether to buy or rent?

When you use a buy-versus-rent comparison program — whether on a home computer or on the Internet — the results will reflect whatever assumptions are entered into the program. Thus you can produce any answer you like.

Program answers can be based on incorrect assumptions or on efforts to examine values that cannot be objectively measured such as personal preferences. Neither computers nor people can predict future values, interest rates, or local development shifts.

But, computer programs may be helpful in the sense that they can identify issues to consider and the concerns which hold the most importance for you.