Tenants: Your Rights When Your Landlord is Foreclosed On
Authored By: Legal Services Alabama
If you rent your home or apartment, a law in effect as of May 20, 2009 may protect you.
Can the person who buys the building at foreclosure make me leave right away?
- No. First the new owner needs to end your tenancy.
- If you have an unexpired lease, you may be able to stay until the end of the lease term.
- In any case, the new owner has to give you a 90-day lease termination notice.
What can I do if the new owner says I have to leave in less than 90 days?
- You can send a letter telling the buyer the law. Click here for a sample letter.
- Keep a copy of your letter.
- It may help to go to the post office and pay to make the new owner sign to prove he or she got your letter.
- If you get in the mail a green receipt signed by the new owner, save that receipt.
- You should also pay the new owner your rent.
What happens if I don't pay the new owner rent?
The new owner can send you a letter giving you seven days to pay or move.
What if I have a year lease, and the year is not up?
In most cases, the new owner cannot evict you until the end of the lease. There are two exceptions:
- If the new owner wants to use your home as his or her primary residence, the new owner only has to give you a 90 day notice.
- If you do not pay your rent, the new owner only has to give you a seven-day notice.
What if the new owner files an eviction?
- File an answer with the court that says the new owner failed to give the notice required by the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, Pub. L. No. 111-22, §702 (2009).
- Go to court on the date the court sets for a trial.
- Take with you to court the copy of your letter to the new owner.
- You should also take the copy of the new law that is attached to this notice.
- If you have a written lease, bring that, too.
Can I get my security deposit back?
- The new owner must return your security deposit.
- Request a walk-through and make sure that you leave the premises in good condition.
- Take pictures of the unit as proof.
- Mail a certified letter to the owner giving an address where they can send your security deposit.
- If you security deposit is not returned, you can sue in Small Claims Court.
What is "cash-for-keys"?
- Often, the new owner wants to get possession of the house quickly. To get you to move, the owner is willing to pay you money if you move out by a specific date.
- Often, new owners offer between $500 and $2,000 for moving within two weeks.
- You must weigh the costs and benefits of agreeing to such an offer.
- If you agree on a price with the property owner, as for an agreement in writing. Keep a copy for your own records.
What if I am a Section 8 tenant?
- You have additional protections.
- Call your Section 8 worker.
If you have questions, please call your local Legal Services office.
Reviewed May 2010
AlabamaLegalHelp.org offers legal information, not legal advice. We try hard to make sure this website accurately explains your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For this sort of legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online at intake.alsp.org.