Is Your Rental In Foreclosure?

It’s rare for a rental home to go into foreclosure while a tenant is living in the house but, it does happen. Two years ago, a Sheriff pulled up in front of our rental house and handed me foreclosure papers. We rent. We pay on time every month. Lucky for us, we had  been onto the whole shebang for a few months and were prepared for this. If you are renting, and suspect the mortgage isn’t being paid even though you pay your rent on time every month–here are some tips that I’ve learned.

{The following thoughts are NOT based on research, professionals or hard facts. They are entirely my ideas based on what’s happened in our particular situation.}

1. Gather information

Just because the owner misses one payment doesn’t mean the house is going to end up in foreclosure. But, I think most home owners are concerned about what’s going on with their personal situation and might not know the best time or way to tell the tenants something is wrong. No one wants a foreclosure and most people hold out hope to the very end that somehow, they’ll be able to catch up on their payments. Here are some signs that first alerted us that something wasn’t quite right.

  • Phone calls about basic maintenance issues are not returned
  • Notes taped to the door asking the owner to call the mortgage company
  • Very official looking envelopes coming to your mailbox addressed to the owners with a return address from an attorney

My advice would be to make every effort to communicate with the owner. Ask straight out if the house is headed to foreclosure and if there is anything you can do to help. Maybe the owners could try to sell the house and you could stage it for them in exchange for rent until you have to move. Maybe they’ll let you live rent free for a month or more while you look for a new place.

In our case, we leased our home through a leasing company so we could not contact the owner ourselves. All of our simple, straight forward questions were answered as vaguely as possible and, as of 30 days ago, we were even encouraged to sign another year long lease.

If you suspect the house you are renting is headed for foreclosure contact a local real estate agent and attorney to find out what rights you have as a renter.

2. Tell people

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Get the opinion from people you trust as to how to handle the situation. If you suspect you’ll need to move, tell everyone you know about what’s going on and let them know you are in the market for a new place to live preferably with rich owners who will never miss a monthly payment.

Be careful to not be too harsh on the owners. As upset that I am that the owners seem to be pocketing the money every month and not telling us, I choose to not spend my energy being mad at them. For all I know they have a mountain of medical bills, are facing a divorce or job loss. My guess is they are not taking vacations with our rent money.  Most people don’t want to foreclose on their home. Focus on what you can control.

3. Take advantage of the opportunity and see it as an adventure

Maybe you weren’t planning on moving. Consider this a great chance to lower your rent. Right now, with the market the way it is you might be able to find an even better deal than what you currently have. Look for someone whose house is on the market and has been for a while. Chances are they might be willing to lease the house to you for the current mortgage payment. If they have lots of equity in the house, you could stand to get a great deal. Of course, there’s no guarantee a foreclosure won’t happen in the next house but, get to know the owner and their situation if possible.

When we gave our 60 day notice it was a horribly hard decision. Like with tears and stuff. Our goal was to stay in this house for the next few years until we were debt free. We were settled, we didn’t want to move. We move too much. But the thought of getting kicked out on some random day because of foreclosure was worse than the thought of moving. And we knew that if we choose to not sign another lease here at least we could control when we moved again.

After a day or so I even got excited about moving again. Turns out we found a fantastic home that I cannot wait to live in.  The neighborhood is glorious and looking back, I admit, I’m secretly glad this happened to us.

Update: We moved in July of 2009, a few months after this post. The house went up for auction one week later and did not sell. As of December, 2009 it sits empty. How sad. Update to the update:: looks like the bank sold the house in January 2010. Then it was sold again in May 2010, and it’s on the market now.  I found this little chart online after I googled the address that showed how the price of the house has changed over the past few years.  Interesting:


  1. Im not sure what I would do had that happened 2 me.
    Well I would…but still


    • It’s happening to us and we have no idea what to do. Although we are looking, we have kids and didn’t plan on moving them again so soon. Help!

    • I was scam my house was put up for forvlosure and I was not aware that till sherrif came to my home and adk my family and I to vacate. Does anyone know if we got any

      • ForeclosedOnToo says

        Yes! You do!
        Before President Obama signed the “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009,” most renters lost their leases upon foreclosure. But this legislation provided that leases would survive a foreclosure. The tenant could stay at least until the end of the lease, and month-to-month tenants would be entitled to 90 days’ notice before having to move out (this notice period is longer than any state’s non-foreclosure notice period, a real boon to tenants). Read more:

  2. sadness. our family experienced this in 2009. shocking! our landlord hadn’t been paying any bills with our rent money. we were devastated and a bit anxious.
    we moved 1500 miles away as a result, closer to my sister-so it turned out fine! praise the lord!

  3. Great post, and very timely for us too:)

    We’ve rented our home for nine years next month, and the property foreclosed and returned to the bank last week. We’re now waiting for the knock on the door and getting ready to leave. We have a plan in place as to where to go, but are waiting to see if we might be offered cash for keys to help w/moving expenses.

    We are sad to leave, we planned on moving in the next year anyway, but that was on our terms. This isn’t, and as a control freak it’s not something I’m thrilled about. But, as you say it is an adventure and a great exercise in faith and trust.

  4. We’ll be moving soon too. Not looking forward to it and praying God provides a home big enough for our family, where we currently live. Financial hardships are hard!

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

  5. I think that this post is so important. Especially the part that you are gracious to the owners. These are hard times. .. for so many many people. We own our home, relocated for a job three years ago, and then were laid off. We are STILL unemployed (for 20 months) and there is no easy fix. Literally, my DH has tried everything and is more than willing to take a lesser paying position, if it were offered. But it hasn’t happened. Luckily for us, we have been debt free for years, so when the unimaginable hit us ~ and it hit HARD (we also lost a child during this time) ~ we were better prepared financially.

    There is no telling when or why bad things happen, but one thing is for sure. . . you should prepare for hard times in this economy. And be ready to sacrifice in the short run so that the future won’t be so hard.

    We will be selling our home. . . for a giant loss. And we will end up renting as well. We are waiting on 4 different jobs that DH has had 2 interviews with and ALL are in different states! We are used to moving, so we will definitely have another adventure soon:) Waiting for so long has been the greatest test of our marriage, but it has been a blessing to have ‘daddy’ home and enjoy being a family every day!

  6. Christie says

    I was concerned our rental was in danger of being foreclosed upon because I knew the owners had purchased the home 5 years ago for three times what it is now worth. It is hard to get routine maintenance needs taken care of, even after promised. But I was able to check on our county’s property tax website to verify that, as of last fall, the property taxes were paid.

    • The bank will pay the property tax during a foreclosure period. I know we are going through this right now, as of last month the foreclosure is just waiting for the judge’s signature after a 3 year court case.

  7. I am so glad you started this blog! I have always admired the way you make your home yours even though the house isn’t and right now I am in a big slump because we have another year before we will be back in our own house.

  8. This happened to us last year. I was 6 months pregnant, the baby’s room was decorated and I came home one day FROM MY BABY SHOWER to find the bank putting a “For Sale” sign in the yard. No one even told us though we did suspect. The owners got a piece of junk mail in the mail from a Foreclosure attorney. That was all we had. No other indications. But we felt like something was wrong. We thought we’d have more time, though! We also rented through a rental company. They didn’t believe me about the house being for sale and even sent a rep over to see the sign in the yard.

    We had to move a few weeks later. Then I went into the hospital, our baby was born 2 months early and spent a month in NICU. I ended back up in the hospital with complications, nearly died and we packed up, paid to break our NEW lease and moved closer to home and family. We’re renting now but I can’t seem to “settle.” I’m not sure I’ll ever feel “settled” again as long as we rent. I have no control over where our money is going. We’ve moved 13 times in the 11 years of our marriage due to my husband’s work. And now we could settle but there is no way we can buy a house right now. No way we can come up with a decent down payment and pay medical bills. Even though we had great insurance.

    When you have a baby in NICU and then a Mommy in ICU you rack up a lot of expenses, eating out, plane tickets for your older child to go to Grandma’s so someone can take care of him. :) That kind of thing!!!

    So, it will be 3 years before we are debt free and I just want to STAY here. I just want to feel settled! I’m going to paint even though I feel like that is just tempting fate to take the house. But, it’s better than living with flat white paint!

  9. A good friend of mine is currently in the midst of this. I’ll send her a link to your post. She also had official mail coming to the house and the landlord not answering any phone calls. She finally found out the house was going up for auction (along with all contents!!) while she and her family were scheduled to be on vacation. If they hadn’t asked around until they got some answers, they could have come home to find their house and everything in it sold out from under them. They have only 2 weeks until the auction and are currently in panic mode. Very tough situation.

    • They need to notify the bank that there are tenants. If there is an active lease, they can not be kicked out per President Obama! Believe me…this happened to us! The bank has to give them 30 days after their lease expires. The bank may not be aware that there are tenants. I know in situation; we had to contact the bank and the county. Have them talk to a real estate attorney. But they have more rights than they know.

  10. We had this happen after I moved my mother in with me as her retirement income was not enough to live on her own. Unlike you I know my landlord was usung the money to vacation, many times when I would call her with a problem she would get back to me after her latest trip to NY or PR, she actually admitted she was on vacation! We had moved in February of 2009, I had checked to make sure it was not in foreclosure thru the county website, only to have the foreclosure processed 2 months later. I was lucky enough that we were able to take a chunk of mom’s retirement and buy a house, now the mortgage payment is less than the rent.

    When this happened to us the president had just signed a new law that the renter has rights too, the bank or new owner if house sells has to abide by the lease the tenant has. Florida recently passed a law stating that if you don’t the hoa dues on a rental the rentor has to pay the rent to the hoa until the past dues are paid, my last 2 months of rent I paid went to the hoa attorney, and yes I stiffed her on the final 2 months rent, part of which she had from the security deposit, but with the stress of the situation I was hospitalized, and the extra expense of having to move, I only wish I had owed her more.

    When she rented to us she was already 9 months behind in payments and when we were served she was furious that we were told as to her “it was none of our business” Now if I go into foreclosure it’s of my own doing.

  11. I just wanted to thank you for starting this blog! My husband and I just recently sold our home and moved into a basement apartment. It has been a blessing in so many ways, but I am still having a hard time leaving our first home that we built. Thank you for the uplifting thoughts and wonderful ideas! You are truly amazing and inspiring!! Thank you again!!

  12. I went through something like this too…we didn’t know that it was in foreclose though…got a notice to vacate the day after Christmas when I was 7 months pregnant. It was horrible. We didn’t really have the money to move and it triggered a list of issues at that time in my life…it was SEVERAL years ago…and I am happy to say that I have moved on from that time in my life and am in a different city, in a new marriage and very happy in our little rental house with my new family. Thank you for sharing this story though…it is a reality that isn’t talked about much and is very traumatic when it happens to you!

    Dancing at the foot of the Cross,

    Mrs Mary Joy Pershing

  13. This happened to us exactly as you stated above! Odd phone calls, things taped to our door, people showing up trying to locate our landlords. We also flat out asked them ‘what was going on’? We spoke with a real estate attorney and President Obama changed laws that protect tenants so, we had all the rights. We could not be kicked out during our lease. (unlike horror stories I’ve heard in the past) We still paid them monthly, which killed me!!! And ended up moving on. In the end…it was almost like renting month to month. Very stressful for awhile! And there was certainly no upkeep on their part going on… In the end, it was a learning experience.

  14. I was renting and it went into foreclosure. Good thing to know is the bank will usually honor the lease if you have one. Also, they will pay you to vacate the property if you leave it in good shape. So while not the end of the world, you can do pretty good.

  15. I appreciate your gracious attitude toward the landlord in question, in spite of their less-than-forthrightness toward your family. These are indeed, tough times for many, and I think we would probably be very surprised if we could see the reality of people’s balance sheets!

    • maria cruz says

      Some Landlords have good intentions with their tenants. And yes times are very hard. While the landlord does not raise rent. He/She will face higher cost to maintain the house. It is not always a ruthless landlord a tenant is dealing with. Things are sometimes out of their control.

  16. Angela Glidewell says
  17. We are renting too because of my hubbys short work schedule and you have inspired me to decorated it, paint it, and fix it….I’ve been much happier since then. Although, Im still not content to rent ;)…Im working on that.

    We even put a patio in ! Thanks again for you wonderful blog !

  18. I am really drawn to your site here, the Nester. You sound very much like me, and coincidentally we had this happen to us… but luckily we were told upfront when the landlords couldn’t pay their back property taxes: $7K worth & that they were going to have to sell the house. We were devastated. We had just sold our craptastic house we hated and moved into this gorgeous 3700 sq foot 3 level home near the lake. The house had a huge basement and I had been longing for a basement since I left Pennsylvania 17 years ago. We live in the south and basements are rare here. We cried too. It was doubly bad because the landlords called to tell us, the day before my friend passed away from breast cancer after a 7 year battle. At least I give them credit for being honest with us and not stealing the rent money and not paying the mortgage. Because of the bad economy and the fact that their 300K house was now worth about 260K they were upside down. Landlord had lost his job the previous year and they were struggling to keep a business afloat as well, so they ended up doing a Chapter 13. We actually gave them that piece of advice!

    We moved about 3 months after finding out about it because we found a wonderful rental home in the downtown area, which is a place we had wanted to live for 12 years but never could afford the housing or find anything we wanted to live in. So it was bittersweet. The house still sits empty, no sales, no foreclosure yet, I imagine it will eventually be sold, but I was very very sad to leave it. I loved that house. Thanks for sharing your story. I went to bed lastnight after reading about 3 or 4 of your blog entries on various things and I find myself reading even more today… and I am so not one of those who reads many blogs or follows them. So thanks for sharing your story, very comforting to know I am not the only one this happened to.

  19. We are currently in the same situation, however we rent from family and they didnt tell us anything was amiss, until I found a notice taped to our front door the week before christmas that our house was going to be auctioned off (at this point it was auctioned off 2 days ago) When I brought them the notice they said, oh yeah we know about that but its not gonna sell for atleast a year! Well we were beyond stressed and accepted that we were gonna have to move right away, we werent gonna take it for granted that we had a year. On the day of the auction we called to find out if it sold and it had. So as of 2 days ago, ive been on overload. Beyond stressed. But yesterday I accepted it and started looking at the positive side, and started looking on Pinterest for ways to decorate our new place (that we dont have yet! although we only have 30days to get us and our 3 kids out) and came across your post for how to decorate a rental, Ive followed your blog before but this was kinda like a sign that Im doing the right thing and accepting and looking at the positive in this. =)

  20. We have received a white envelope monthly for the past 7 months urging us to call out mortgage company. We so not own, we rent. I know there they are behind on the mortgage as well as fines on the house. The landlord keeps saying they will let us know. We are worried at any time we may be told to get out. What is with these white envelopes being left monthly.

  21. Amandaplus2 says

    So…We have only been in our house for 4 months (we rent). When we moved in, the landlord seemed underconcerned about our credit history or background check. Heck, she only asked us for a copy of our Driver’s Licenses the day we moved in. Also, on our move in date, there was still furniture (a couch, a tv, a tv stand, a vacuum, a computer desk)But after looking for a place for months, having our hopes high and being let down several tmes, we didn’t think to question it. We just thought, ‘Great! We finally found a place!’ Things have been good. It took 2 months for her to give me the account number for the water bill. (Which she wants in her name). Getting anything fixed is like pulling teeth. We bought our own refrigerator and it took FOREVER for her to come pick hers up. She told us that she got married a couple days after we moved in, so we didn’t pay much mind when it took FOREVER for her to get anything fixed. We decorated the baby’s room (I was 7 months pregnant when we moved in). Now our baby is 4 weeks old and we received a notice in the mail, telling us that the property is going into foreclosure, and it had some HUD forms in it. I texted the landlord right away asking her what’s going on and she told me “It’s a scam, don’t sign anything”. So…here we are..I am on Disability after having a c-section. I don’t go back to work for another month, so we are barely getting by. I don’t want to be the last to know, but it looks like our landlord isn’t going to keep us in the loop. I am terrified at the thought of having to move at the drop of a hat. We certainly don’t have the money to move while I am on disability. But it feels like right now we are waiting for a storm. I don’t want to stop paying her rent, because I don’t know what the status of the house is. I’ve heard of people “waiting it out”, but I have to consider the well-being of my 2 kids. So lost…so frustrated…don’t really know what’s next and terrified. :(

    • Hi Amandaplus2,

      I just read your post on The Nester. Have you made it through ‘the storm’ safely?


  22. We are in a similar situation. We are supposed to be buying the house on an article of agreement. Papers are all in order, we pay them and they are supposed to pay the mortgage. A few weeks ago a FEDEX letter came for her from Bank of America. I didn’t open it and figured I would give it to her when I pay the house payment. We get a notice the house is being sold for back taxes in 20 days. Do more research and found out that mortgage is 3 months unpaid. Tried to call, all phones are disconnected. Go to the house, they have vacated their property. Talk to the neighbors they moved out in 1 day about a week after I gave them the last check. Thing is they must have had some kind of heart, they never cashed the check. Do more looking around and find they have SEVERAL properties that have been sold for back taxes or that are about to be or already in foreclosure. We know that the money should be put into a separate bank account but we need money for a storage unit to store our things that we don’t immediately need while we wait for the notice to get out. I have 2 kids to think about, so in the mean time I am packing what we don’t need and storing it and trying to find another place. :-( These people also seem to be running some business scams, I found 2 businesses registered to their last known address but neither seems legit. Ironically one is a publishing company that sells books about mortgages and home loans. The other is some non-profit company that I can find no other information about other than the name and the owner’s name, which is her and her husband. Something seems very shady. I have a relative that does some private investigation work, hoping he can help at least track them down or find more information so we can file a police report for fraud and maybe uncover a much bigger scam going on here. To also note I found that these people have a few different last names and possibly some other aliases. They have moved about 13 times in the last 10 years between 3 different states.

  23. We have had this happen to us twice in the last 12 years! It is not fun. The first time the owner simply didn’t want the property any longer and this was easier (his words). The second time the owners were losing there business and the house was part of the financing. They were great. After realizing and coming to terms with they were going to lose it they wouldn’t even accept our rent any longer and told us to save it towards the move. We had been on to the possibility for a while because notices did start being taped to the door. We to this day see them from time to time and are so thankful for their honesty.

  24. Hi there! I just would like to offer you a huge
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  25. this is happening to me right now! my landlady passed away about 6 months ago & everything passed to her daughter. there has been no mortgage payment on the house since Feb 2012. i have paid over $12,000 in rent since then & the daughter has pocketed every cent. a rep from the bank came by just before Christmas & gave us foreclosure papers. when i asked the daughter she assured me that everything had been taken care of @ the house was NOT in foreclosure. Liar! i received a letter from an attorney (as the possessor) and informed the house foreclosure was going to circuit court, but no date has been set yet. i have no idea what to do. i’m like most ot the posts on here – i’m still giving her my rent but hating every second because i know that she is not putting it towards the mortgage. i’m very resentful towards her because she has not been truthful. she also will not fix anything. for the past year, i have been paying for all repairs. the stove is not working & she told me 3 months ago that she would get another. thank you for letting me unload……..i’m looking for another house but there is nothing for rent in my area (Panama City Beach) but lots for sale.

  26. This very same thing happened to us in Texas a little over 4 years ago. I don’t understand why nobody has taken advantage of the law that was passed several years ago protecting the tenant in this situation. While the mortgage company did try to offer us one months rent in cash as an incentive to get us out, they were bound by the law to honor our lease which still had 6 months on it. In this way we were able to recoup the deposit money we would have lost as well as save enough extra for another down payment on our next place, which we then had plenty of time to look for. I encourage anyone reading these posts to check this out. They can no longer legally kick you out if you’ve still got time on your lease and you’ve been paying on time (i.e., you’ve never defaulted).

  27. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
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  28. Michaela says

    we go through a property management company to rent or duplex and we live in we found out about for months ago that the duplex is going into foreclosure we have told our property management company that we do not want to live here anymore we and want out. Our duplex was sold at the courthouse today we’re trying to find out who bought the duplex and if we can quickly get out of the remaining 4 months of the lease kte property management company has told us that we have to renegotiate our lease wwith the new owner.we do not want to renegotiate our lease we just want out does anybody know anything about breaking the lease and if it is leagal now that the property has been sold. We also want to know if there is a wsy to find out who bought the duplex.

  29. kristel shafer says

    Hello, I Thank you for this blog, i think that I am in a bad situation with my rental house. The landlords wife passed away and rented the house to us. We drew up a 2 yr lease which I was adamant about because the landlord wanted a verbal agreement and that was a definite no. He says that there is a tax lien and that we have years before anything happens but he just recently said if the sheriffs show up to call him. I did a bit of research through county records and know that the mortgage holder used to be fannie mae, my question is cant we become the owners of this property by negotiating with the bank since they want it anyway????? what are my options?/ I love the property and house and do not want to go through the moving process again.

  30. Help. I have been renting a condo in SLC Ut. We are month to month since Aug 2013. The Property sold at auction this week. I have 2 children one who is disabled and schooled at home thorough the district. The new owner wants an increase in rent as of Feb 1st. I don’t have the money to move but no idea what my rights/responsibilities are. Please help

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  46. The old owners sold the property and the new owner came and present there self, last monrh no body pick the rent out do we pay the last month rent to the new owner

  47. I live in Massachusetts, the seconds mortgage of the house I currently reside in was auctioned off, no one told me anything and because of that I wasn’t about to write out a check for someone who didnt even own the place anymore. A month later the original own is asking for rent and she does not own the second mortgage but claims she still owns the first. What should I do?

  48. With Legal Name Fraud, aren’t all mortgages null and void?

  49. Tammi Cline says

    This is exactly what I went through in the beginning of 2015 and was forced out in April. Yes, there is supposed to be a law protecting victims of a landlords foreclosure but there was no help and no returned phone calls anywhere!!! I called the Governors office who referred me to who handles that…one number told me housing, housing told me no, the other number I called maybe 60 plus times and left messages and got not even one returned call….funny because the law says, “Do not move until you talk to us first!” Who is us because I can’t find a soul to help? It also says they will give the displaced renter a $5,000 grant to help move. Where ? How? When? What?? Its nuts!!! Not one even hand to help and I trued everywhere!!! These agencies receive money to help in situations as such as well and nothing!!! I’ve never asked or gotten help before ! So now, I’m on the streets at 51 yes old and sleeping in my car in a Carl’s Jr parking lot!!! Its embarrassing and extremely humiliating!! To top it off, the following month my mother passed away and that sent me into an even worse spiral. I’m at a loss here and never did I ever think I would be in this situation. It not safe either. I’ve worked very hard all my life and I cannot believe there is nothing out there to help. I’ve tried everything and just don’t know what to do anymore. It can happen to anyone, at any time and its hard when people don’t understand, or think you ” put yourself in that position”! That’s horrible and no, it wasn’t my fault the landlord I discovered had an issue with a pill addiction and hadn’t paid taxes for over 10 years on the home, or the house payment in who knows how many but he said he is letting them take it so they don’t take all his retirement money! Isn’t that just nice!!??

  50. my father in law died and my mother in law, had to move she can’t climb those stairs anymore, but before he died he was scammed out of money and he borrowed on the house, now he dead, and my mother in law has moved out… my sister in law won’t me and my wife to move in , but I’m really afraid of doing that because for one thing my father in law was over 5 months behind on his Mortage, and now my mother in law no longer lives there, can’t afford too move then 2 to 3 months later the bank comes and forclose on us…..

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