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Renters - Check Out Your Landlord

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I felt so bad for Keith Woodard, the tenant whose landlord didn’t pay the mortgage. Keith was evicted, lost his security deposit and had to leave behind thousands of dollars of appliances that he bought with his own money. (No place to store them.)

So whether you are a long-time tenant, or are about to rent a place don’t be naïve. Check out your landlord. Is he/she in foreclosure or close to foreclosure? It’s not hard to find out. You just have to know the steps.

1. Go on-line to the county tax collector’s website where the property is. Put in the address and see if there are any back taxes owed. Unpaid taxes are a sign of financial trouble.

2. Go the website of the Clerk/Recorder’s office of the county where the property is. Go to the grantor/grantee search index. Put it the landlord’s name. There you will find a list of documents that pertain to him/her. Look for “NT Trustee Sale.” That means Notice of Trustee Sale. Not a good thing. Also bad is “Notice of Default”. This precedes an official foreclosure.

3. The Fair Housing Council can also help you if the on-line stuff is too confusing. Their number is 800-698-3247.

4. Also, if it turns out your landlord is in trouble and you are getting evicted, tenants in California must be given 30 days notice at least. And if you are offered a cash for keys option, negotiate hard to cover your lost security deposit and last month’s rent.

5. And don’t pay any more in advance than you absolutely have to. One couple leased a home in Orange County with the intention to buy it. They pre-paid their rent 18 months in advance! So when their landlord lost the house, and the couple was evicted and they lost $21,000. Yikes!

Also - there is a website where you can put in your address and see if your landlord is in foreclosure. It’s at rentalforeclosure.com. However, don’t take this as the final word. By the time your landlord is in foreclosure, it may be too late for you.

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