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Renters facing eviction from foreclosure put pressure on local resources.

Homeowners are not the only households suffering from the foreclosure crisis. Rising rates of foreclosure around the nation also are uprooting large numbers of unsuspecting renters and their families.

Community and government agencies are witnessing an influx of renters who are facing a struggle to find adequate housing options, or the instant cash necessary to respond to an unexpected notice to vacate. While some large cities and states have proposed or passed laws protecting renters from predatory lending practices, most renters have little legal protection or aid.

Community advocacy groups are taking notice, challenging local, state and federal leaders to address the growing concerns facing renters as a result of foreclosures. The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) recently released a report, "Renters and the Housing Credit Crisis," drawing attention to the problems that the housing crisis is presenting to renters, who make up 32 percent of U.S. households.

In the report, co-authors Danilo Pelletiere and Keith Wardrip state that renters are being confronted with a tightening housing market in many communities, due to the foreclosure-induced increase in demand, and the rising number of bank-owned, unoccupied properties. The tightening market has further stressed the already low affordable housing stock in the nation, forcing many renters scrambling for housing options and cash for moving costs and new security deposits.

Many renters are facing eviction without any previous knowledge that their landlords were facing foreclosure. At the mercy of state laws, renters in good standing may face eviction with as little as three days notice.

There have been countless cases of predatory leasing, against which, most renters have no legal protection. Predatory leasing refers to a trend where property owners facing eviction may choose to inform tenants of foreclosure procedures at the very last moment, reaping as many fees and payments as possible before losing their properties. In some cases, tenants don't find out that the property has new owners until after they have made payments to the previous owner. These households are forced to move without planning or the ability to recover deposits or rent paid. In order to recover debts from foreclosed landlords, renters have to resort to filing their grievances in small claims courts, requiring time and money that many renters cannot afford on top of the already daunting process and costs associated.

The states with renter protection laws include provisions requiring a mandatory period of notice of foreclosure or eviction, ranging from 3 to 120 days. Only seven states plus Washington, D.C., have laws providing tenants with at least 30 days of written notice. California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and D.C. provide renters with the greatest legal protection, with New Jersey and D.C. providing the most stringent laws, preventing eviction without just cause.

Community organizations and government agencies around the nation are reporting a shortage of resources due to a rising number of families who are becoming temporarily homeless and needing assistance in the form of food, shelter and legal advice. Schools are experiencing disruptions, soup kitchens and food pantries are running out of food, legal aid organizations and district attorney's offices are experiencing waves of calls from constituents and upset renters seeking legal advice. In cities such as Chattanooga, Tenn., Reno, Nev., San Diego, and Columbus, Ohio, tent cities have appeared as local shelters reach maximum occupancy.
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Title Annotation:renter protection laws
Author:Pankowicz, Joyce
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 20, 2008
Previous Article:A letter from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Next Article:Congress of Cities session to focus on new approaches to housing crisis: mini plenary will feature top federal and local officials.

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