Renters Left In Lurch When Landlord Defaults

Many renters across San Diego County are getting eviction notices slapped on their doors because their landlords are upside down on their loans, 10News reported.

Paul Halen and his family moved into their 4S Ranch home about one year ago. They are renting it for $3,000 a month, but now they will have to pack their belongings again.

"I got laid off, and I find out about the house going into foreclosure the same day," said Halen.

The house is now in foreclosure and is owned by a bank, and the Halens have 90 days to move out.

Many renters are in the same predicament, especially since foreclosure rates in June have jumped more than 66 percent compared to May's numbers.

"What some brokers are doing, they're telling you to move, like, tomorrow, and some people are being scared and intimated to move out right away but they don't need to," said Steven Kellman of Tenants Legal Center.

Under state law, a tenant has 60 days to move. Federal law gives a tenant 90 days.

Kellman said each case varies but in no way should a tenant immediately have to leave.

"There's a good chance they can buy more time and stay there without having to pay any rent; they certainly should not be harassed," said Kellman.

According to records pulled by 10News, the notice of default by the Halen's landlord was December 2008.

"She knew she was going to lose the house and never told them, but still kept taking the rent, kept taking the rent and that's the problem," said Kellman.

Kellman said the owner did not make any payments this year but collected $3,000 per month in rent from the Halens.

"We paid her that last month's rent with her begging on the front porch, and now telling us we have to move out. She's going to do a walkthrough. She knows what she's going to deduct. She wants her washer and dryer and refrigerator. She wants to inconvenience us," said Halen.

Kellman advises renters to ask an expert before not paying rent.

He said in general, if the bank owns the property, the tenant does not have to pay the landlord any money in further rent to the former landlord.

"His relationship now is with the bank. His only contact with the landlord is the landlord owes him the deposit, the security deposit. She thinks she's entitled more money from him but she's not," said Kellman.

10News contacted the owner, but she did not want to be on camera. She said she has acted in good faith with the Halens and was trying to modify the loan so she can keep the home.

For now, the Halens are planning another move that they said is hopefully a more permanent one.