Evicted for Christmas

December 20, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
It's not unusual for renters to be caught up in this foreclosure crisis.Many foreclosed homes were bought by investors. Some kept the rent but didn't make the payments, leaving the renters out in the cold.

For Washima Bell this four bedroom home in a decent neighborhood was a great place to raise her eight kids. They range in age from one to sixteen.

She works 12 hours a day as a home health worker, taking care of an Alzheimer's patient. Her husband works in construction and is out of a job. Now the families have to find a new place to live.

A notice, addressed to the property owner who does not live there, orders the house vacated by 6:00AM on December 26th, the day after Christmas.

Attorney Chris Schneider of Central California Legal Services said Washima's story is a familiar one. Often tenants have no idea the place their in is being foreclosed.

Under California law, the tenant has to be legally named and notified, and has a right to stay 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on circumstances. However, in this case, unless Washima can go to court immediately and show she's the tenant and entitled to legal due process, a deputy can act on this order to vacate and force the family out on December 26th.

With eight kids, Washima fears finding a place to stay won't be easy.

We contacted the property owner and he said he's trying to save the house, but doesn't have any money. We left a message for the lenders attorney but got no response. The sheriff's department which will enforce the order to vacate also did not return our calls.

Washima isn't sure what kind of Christmas this is going to be. She's getting help from her church, and hoping to find a new place to live, before the family is forced out.

There's a real catch to this situation. Washima can get a lawyer, go to court and probably win the right to stay in the house, but then the bank can evict her legally and that shows up on her credit report, making it even tougher to find a place to live. Even though the eviction isn't her fault. So anyone in this situation should seek immediate legal assistance.

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