KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Unlike homeowners, renters typically don't know their landlord isn't paying the mortgage until a foreclosure or eviction letter shows up at their home. Just because a renter is told to leave doesn't mean you have to hit the streets.
There are state and federal laws in place to protect renters
, but renters we talked to didn't know about these rules.
The holiday season is weighing heavy on Terrasa Steele''s mind.
"I have migraine headaches, so I ended up at the doctor's office twice in the past two weeks," Steele said.
Not only is it the stress of not having presents under the tree, it's who showed up at Steele's door earlier this month.
"A stranger knocked on the door and said the house has been foreclosed," Steele said.
We found Steele's landlord, Garrett Webster, also lost other homes to foreclosure in recent months. Webster wouldn't answer questions related to the property because he is no longer the owner. He hung up as we were asking about his other foreclosed properties. Steele says the servicer told her she had to be out by the end of the month.
"I just worry. I've cried for days. Just where are we going to go?" Steele wondered.
It's a problem Call For Action has warned you about in September
where landlords face foreclosures and tenants are left paying the price.
"Evidentially he hasn't been paying the company or there wouldn't be a problem," Steele said.
It's a problem that can be easily fixed. A federal law gives renters 90 days to move out if their landlord foreclosures. The federal law will expire in 2010, and then Missouri law will come in handy that gives you 10 days. Right now, federal law trumps the state law.
As part of the law, you may also be able to stay in the house for the remainder of your lease if you pay the lender rent.
"Every renter should know that no one can be evicted in Kansas City without court action," Legal Aid of Western Missouri Executive Director Gregg Lombardi said.
Lombardi estimates a quarter of metro foreclosures are rental properties. He wants to make sure renters are exercising their rights.
"It's a very straight-forward law and it's easy to enforce," Lombardi said.
Legal Aid is looking to help renters if they can't get action on their own You can call Legal Aid at 816-474-6750 or use their Tip Sheet
to protect yourself.
For us, it took a simple phone call to CitiMortgage to ensure Steele will get to stay in her rental home through the holidays.
CitiMortgage says it originally offered Steele a cash incentive to be out by January. She didn't feel comfortable with the deal, and is more comfortable staying until she can find a new place.
CitiMortgage Vice President of Public Affairs Mark Rodgers told Call For Action, "Subsequently, she changed her mind and will, of course, be permitted to remain for the 90 day period, or until the end of a verifiable, legitimate lease, if it is for a longer period. Our records indicate we sent a customary 90-day letter."