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If Your Building is Being Foreclosed, Don’t Fall for “Cash-for-Keys” Schemes

 

1. Do I have to move as soon as my building is foreclosed?

No! Do not panic. No one can force you to move out quickly. If your landlord loses the building to foreclosure, there is a new owner. Usually y the new owner is a bank. You are still a tenant and the new owner cannot make you move out quickly. If you think your building is being foreclosed and you have a Section 8 voucher, call your local housing authority right away.

2. Should I take an offer of money to move out quickly?

No! “Cash for keys” offers are almost never a good deal. You do not have to agree. Remember:

  • The money you are offered is not enough to pay for your moving costs;
  • You will be giving up your legal rights; and
  • You should be able to do much better in court.

If you do not have a new place to move to the money will not make things easier. Going through court will usually give you more time than the new owner is offering in the “cash for keys” deal.

3. Can the new owner evict me without going to court?

No! After a foreclosure, the new landlord cannot put you out without court permission. Plus, you can fight an eviction in court. You only have to move out if a court orders you to. If you get papers and go to court, you can defend yourself and ask the judge to let you stay. Even if you lose, the court can give you up to six months or a year before you have to leave.

4. Do I need a lawyer if the new owner tries to evict me in court?

No! You do not have to have a lawyer. It is a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as you find out about the foreclosure. You can ask for legal representation from your local legal services program. If you cannot get a lawyer, you can still get legal advice on the day you go to court. There is an "Attorney for the Day Table" outside the courtrooms in Boston Housing Court. You can find a lawyer to help you at this table.

5. Does the new owner have to take care of repairs and utilities?

Yes. After a foreclosure, the new owner is your new landlord. The new landlord has the same job as your last landlord - repairs, maintenance and paying for utilities. If you do not know who to talk to about repairs or questions about the property, get in touch with the person who gave you the papers about the foreclosure. This person might be a broker, a real estate agent, or a lawyer for the new owner. Demand that the new landlord make the repairs and keep the utilities turned on. You should also complain to the new owner, or their agent. Send them a letter complaining about the conditions. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. It is also a good idea to call your town or city's Inspectional Services Department to ask for a free inspection.

If the new owner does not take care of the problems in your apartment or building,

  1. Go to the Housing Court, if there is one in your area - otherwise to district court;
  2. Tell the clerk your building was foreclosed, the new owner is not taking care of the building; and
  3. Ask the court to order the new owner to make repairs and supply utilities.

6. Should I pay rent after foreclosure?

Yes – but be careful. Even if your building was foreclosed, you still owe rent. If the new owner does not accept your rent, save the money and try not to spend it. Write to the new owner or their agent and offer to pay your rent. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. If your building has been foreclosed, do not pay rent to the old landlord. Rather, try to find out who owns the building now.


Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last updated May, 2008


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