Q: What happens if the property I’m renting is in
A: You probably make monthly rent payments to your landlord, while
your landlord makes mortgage payments to a lender. If your landlord stops
making payments, the lender may foreclose on your landlord, which will also
affect you. In Ohio, the
lender must file a foreclosure complaint before legally taking a house or
apartment away from the landlord (owner). Your landlord still owns the property
until a court grants a foreclosure judgment and approves a sheriff’s sale.
Q: How will I know if a foreclosure has been filed
against my landlord?
A: Generally, the lender (“plaintiff”) will
name you as a tenant in the foreclosure complaint, but may only list you as
“Jane or John Doe” or “unknown tenant at [your address].” You are unlikely to
get a copy of the foreclosure judgment, but keep any notification you receive so
you can find out how the case is progressing or get legal advice, if necessary.
Q: How can I find out about the status of the foreclosure
A: Check with your local clerk of courts
for your county’s Court of Common Pleas. Many clerks have case information
You may need to provide your landlord’s name to get information about the foreclosure,
which is a civil lawsuit.
Q: Can I stop paying rent if a foreclosure lawsuit
is filed against my landlord?
A: NO. Your landlord still owns the
property until there is a judgment and sale, and if you stop paying your rent,
your landlord could file an eviction action in court, even during a foreclosure
Can I break my lease if a
foreclosure lawsuit is filed against my landlord?
A: Generally, a foreclosure filing doesn’t
allow you to break your lease unless your lease agreement says otherwise. If
you do so, your landlord could sue you for money damages. If you decide to
move, you may want to negotiate with your landlord to terminate your lease
early. If you reach an agreement, make sure it’s in writing and signed by your
landlord, yourself and anyone else on the lease.
Q: Must my landlord maintain the property while it
goes through foreclosure?
A: YES. Until the court approves the sale,
your landlord must still fulfill all obligations, such as making repairs, just as
you must continue to pay rent.
Can my landlord still collect rent after
the court issues a foreclosure judgment and approves the property sale?
A: NO. Once a “confirmation of sale” has
been filed with the court, it cuts off all the owner/landlord’s rights, including
the right to collect rent, but you should continue to set aside rent payment so
you can pay the new owner. Whoever purchased the property at the sheriff’s sale
will become your new landlord, because the lease survives the foreclosure sale.
The new owner should tell you where to make your rental payment, and the amount
should not change. Also, the new owner must make any repairs that the lease or Ohio
law would have required the old owner to make.
Can I stay in my apartment once the
foreclosure process is completed?
A: YES, for at
least 90 days. Under the
federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), which applies to anyone
who bought a property on or after May 20, 2009 as the result of a foreclosure, the
new owner generally must keep you as a tenant. Usually, the new owner is the
lender (plaintiff), who buys the property back from the landlord at the
sheriff’s sale, so the lending company may become your new landlord.
Q: Can the new owner force me to move out?
A: Possibly, but you should receive at
least 90 days’ notice before the new owner can make you leave. If you are a
“bona fide tenant” with a “bona fide lease,” then you have the right to stay in
your home until your current lease ends. If, however, the new owner intends to
live on the property, you must receive at least 90 days’ advance notice to move
out. The new owner can evict you if you do not leave after being properly
notified. (Note: You must meet certain criteria to be a “bona fide” tenant with
a “bona fide” lease. Consult an attorney if you are unsure about your tenancy
Q: Can the court evict me through the foreclosure
A: NO. If you are a “bona fide tenant” with
a “bona fide lease agreement,” then the new owner must give you a 90-day eviction
notice. If you do not move within 90 days, the new owner must: 1) serve you
with a three-day Notice to Leave Premises and 2) file an eviction action. Under
the PTFA, you may have the right to stay through the end of your lease.
Q: Where can I get more information or legal help?
A: Go to http://www.ohiolegalservices.org/programs
or call 1-866-LAW-OHIO
(1-866-529-6446) to locate the legal aid program in your area. You must be
financially eligible to receive services, including advice, from a legal aid
This “Law You Can Use” column was
provided by the Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by attorney Joe
Maskovyak of the Ohio Poverty Law Center in Columbus. Articles appearing in
this column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law.
Before applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged
to seek advice from an attorney.
Labels: foreclosures, landlord, lease agreement, property, rental