If the landlord has not been paying the mortgage on the property you are renting, the mortgage company can file a lawsuit to have the property auctioned off to pay the loan. This is called a foreclosure.
The lender will file a complaint in the Circuit Court of the County in which your property is located.
The lender will then issue a summons to all interested parties, including you, the tenant.
If someone came to your door and handed you or anyone in your household over 15 years old, court papers, then you have been served.
Everyone served will have 20 days to respond to the court.
It does not count if they leave the papers at your door.
Once you have been served, the court has the authority to terminate your tenancy at the end of the foreclosure.
As a tenant, if your lease began before the foreclosure was filed, the lender has to let you live out your lease term. If your lease started after the foreclosure was filed, your lease will end when the court auctions the leased premises off. Foreclosure’s can take years to finish, and sometimes the lender looses the case. So dont panic !
How to check the status of the foreclosure
You need to keep track of the case so you will know well in advance when the foreclosure auction will happen. You can check the status of the foreclosure on the Clerk of Court’s website.
In Broward that is http://www.BrowardClerk.org
- Choose “online Services”
- Public Access Search
- Click here: http://www.clerk-17th-flcourts.org/Clerkwebsite/BCCOC2/OdysseyPA/CaseSearch.aspx?SelectCourt=true&DisplayCitation=no&DisplayHearing=yes&DisplayType=Civil
- Party name: type in the landlord’s name
A list of cases will come up. Click on a case to see the “docket” It will show you the 3 most recent events in the case.
Reference the foreclosure timeline below to see how far along your case is.
You can also try calling the Clerk at 954-831-5745 and tell them the case number which is on the upper right corner of the court papers.
These are the steps in a foreclosure case so you can see how far along your foreclosure is:
- Complaint filed & summons issued. Everyone has 20 days to respond to the court
- Returns of service will be filed – indicating the party was served or not served.
- Publication: the lender can publish a notice in the newspaper against those parties not personally served.
- Affidavits filed: in preparation for a motion for summary judgment the lender will file affidavits of costs and amounts due and owing
- Motion for summary judgment
- Notice of hearing ( must be no sooner than 20 days after the motion was filed and no sooner than five days before the hearing)
- Hearing for Summary Judgment: this is a 5 minute hearing based on the fact that no one has contested the foreclosure. If the lender’s papers are in order the foreclosure will be granted and the Clerk of Court will set a “sale date” on which the property will be auctioned off on the internet. The sale date is generally 6-8 weeks after the judgment.
- Sale Date: if the sale was not cancelled and the sale went through, you will see the sale noted on the docket. Your landlord no longer owns the property.
- Certificate of title: ten days ( or longer ) after the sale the court will issue a deed to the highest bidder at the sale called a “certificate of title.”
- If the buyer is not the lender, but a 3rd party who is going to move in themselves, they can apply to the court for a “writ of possession” to have the sheriff kick you out. If the lender takes title, it has to give you a 90 Day written notice to move, before they can apply for a writ of possession. The 90 days does not start until you get the notice.
- If your lease started before the foreclosure was filed, the buyer has to let you live out your lease.
People will tell you that you don’t have to pay the rent anymore if the landlord is in foreclosure. That is not true. The foreclosure does not legally affect your lease until the property is auctioned off. If you don’t pay the rent, the landlord can still evict you.
SECURITY DEPOSIT: There is nothing that protects your security deposit in the event of a foreclosure.
If you are renting a condominium there are a few other concerns. First, if the landlord has not been paying the condo dues, the association can file their own foreclosure. These foreclosures will move much faster, and generally will finish in less than a year. The association will usually want to continue renting to you after they have foreclosed your landlord.
The condo association also has the right to demand the rent directly from you, if the owner has not been paying the dues. In this case, the association has to give you a written demand, and they cannot make you pay them rent, that you have already paid the landlord. Unfortunately for you, the association will not be responsible for making any repairs. Once the association has demanded the rent from you, they can evict you if you don’t pay them. But if you have paid rent to the association, the landlord can no longer evict you for not paying that rent to him.
MULTI UNIT BUILDINGS
If you are renting in a building of more than four units, it is considered commercial instead of residential. In a commercial foreclosure, the lender will usually try to seize the rent first thing, either by a court order for you to pay them the rent directly, or by having the court appoint a “receiver” to take over management of the building from your landlord.