Valley Renters Foreclosure Trouble

September 25, 2009 1:08:58 AM PDT
Michele Embrey says despite the fact that her water has been shut off, and her landlord hasn't returned phone calls, she still had no idea the home she was living in was going into foreclosure. Now she has only a few weeks to leave, and no options left.Michele Embrey is an unemployed mother of two who is also recovering from a neck injury. Now she's dealing with another crisis.

Embrey said, "I don't know where I'm going. I have no idea."

Two weeks ago, Michele received this notice telling her that she had to vacate her Central Fresno rental home because it was going into foreclosure. Michele thought her only option was to accept a "Cash for Keys" deal, a program that gives renters of foreclosed properties money if they agree to leave within thirty days. She signed the paperwork and sent it to the bank's realtor, hoping a check for $3000 would soon follow.

"Then I asked her after all of this well how soon will I get this check, so I can start packing, make rental arrangement, all this stuff and she says oh you don't get a dime until you're completely out," said Embrey.

Michele called Tenants Together, a tenants rights group based in San Francisco. Although Cash for Keys isn't designed to give people money until after they move out, they say banks have cooperated in the past.

Gabe Treves said, "The realtors have not been very sympathetic to her situation. They have not made it easy for her to communicate exactly what she needs from them as she's going to take this cash for keys offer."

Don Scordino of Realty Concepts says renters like Michele have the right to live out the terms of their lease, choose to stay for ninety days, or accept a cash for keys deal. But banks aren't required to negotiate. His advice to renters, be prepared.

Scordino said, "That's a sign of the times right now. There are homes that are being lost in foreclosure, so if you're gonna rent one, don't think your landlord is Mr. Money bags and they can go on forever."

Unfortunately, Michele does not have a lease. She was paying month-to-month. We did make a phone call to the real estate company handling her case, they had no comment.

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