The Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition (BHPC) and the Public Justice Center have teamed up to launch a citywide renters’ rights campaign called “Landlord Foreclosed? Renters Have Rights”. The campaign illustrates how homeowners are not alone in their struggles against foreclosure; renters too are confronting a similar plight. According to the BHPC, approximately 40% of all started foreclosures are for investor-owned residential properties.
The campaign provides tips for renters whose landlords are facing foreclosure, as well as how to avoid loan scams and how to report mortgage and foreclosure fraud. Please see their recommendations below and visit their website for further information regarding the Renters’ Rights Campaign.
If you are a renter whose landlord is facing foreclosure:
•Open all mail addressed to “occupant” or “current resident”, especially if it comes from a court, law firm, bank or real estate agent.
•Pay your landlord rent until you receive notice from the new buyer after the foreclosure is complete.
•Seek legal advice before accepting a “cash for keys” deal (when the bank offers you a sum of money to vacate the property immediately).
•Contact the not-for-profit Public Justice Center for trustworthy and FREE legal advice at (410) 625-9409. (The link of BHPC’s website for the Public Justice Center doesn’t work, so use this one: http://www.publicjustice.org/our-work/tenant-advocacy)
To avoid loan scams, know the signs:
Do not trust anyone who:
•Guarantees to stop foreclosure.
•Instructs you not to contact lender, lawyer, housing or credit counselor.
•Collects fee before providing service.
•Accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer.
•Encourages leasing of home to “buy back over time”.
•Requires mortgage payments be made to them, rather than lender or servicer.
•Asks for deed or title to be transferred to them.
•Offers to buy house for cash at fixed price not set by market.
•Offers to fill out paperwork on your behalf.
•Pressures you to sign paperwork you haven’t thoroughly read or don’t understand.
BHPC recommends checking out Neighborworks America’s Loan Modification website that has more information about knowing the signs that you’re being scammed and how to protect yourself. Their site is: http://www.loanscamalert.org/
If you think you’ve been a victim of mortgage or foreclosure fraud, report it to the Maryland Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation by calling 1-888-784-0136. BHCP also has a page dedicated to avoiding foreclosure scams on their site.
The BHPC is a partnership in which nonprofit, governmental, and professional entities collaborate to prevent or lessen the effects of foreclosure on Baltimore families and neighborhoods. Membership is free for both organizations and individuals who are committed to preventing foreclosures and stabilizing neighborhoods that are dealing with significant changes caused by the current housing crisis.
St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center also provides a great deal of support to families in danger of losing their homes. The Foreclosure Prevention Division actively promotes continuing homeownership through education and reform. This group of counselors and attorneys identify predatory activities and unfair mortgages, and provide legal representation to clients who are victimized by fraudulent refinancing or home improvement scams in addition to helping those who encounter other home ownership issues. To receive free home ownership counseling, education, and other services at St. Ambrose, please call 410-366-8550. St. Ambrose also recommends the Consumer Tips for Avoiding Mortgage Modification Scams and Foreclosure Rescue Scams developed by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.