Foreclosure leaves renters facing uncertaintyA notice in the paper was the first clue Missy Crocker had that her family’s rental home was under foreclosure. In less than a month, a sheriff’s sale is scheduled for the house on North 20th Street and 12 other properties owned by Great Lakes Properties & Investments LLC. Last week, the family agreed to give a television interview.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A notice in the paper was the first clue Missy Crocker had that her family’s rental home was under foreclosure. In less than a month, a sheriff’s sale is scheduled for the house on North 20th Street and 12 other properties owned by Great Lakes Properties & Investments LLC. Last week, the family agreed to give a television interview.
“Not just for us,” Crocker said, but to notify other renters who may not read the paper. “At least they could be aware.”
Some of them have children, she said, and others may be on a fixed income.
“I feel bad for everybody involved in this,” Crocker said.
Since learning of the foreclosure, the Superior woman has been calling everyone she can think of to find out what the upcoming sale will mean to her, her parents Sue and Blair Wallen, and her brother. So far, she’s drawn a blank.
“Nobody knows anything,” Crocker said.
There is no current state law that addresses these situations. A state law protecting tenants was revoked in June 2011. But the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 is in effect until 2014. According to that law, renters with a written lease that expires on a certain date can stay in the rental until the lease ends unless the new owner plans to make it their primary residence. Tenants who have a month-to-month lease, a verbal lease or stay in a rental the new owner plans to occupy can remain in the home at least 90 days after sale of the property is confirmed.
This isn’t an isolated incident. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has fielded calls from renters facing similar situations.
“We certainly do receive a number of these,” said Jared Albracht, a communications specialist with the department.
The Wallen family currently rents a four bedroom home and owns three cats. They have been at the residence for five years and had planned to stay, if not forever, a long time.
“We’re happy where we’re at and don’t want to move,” Crocker said. “Obviously that’s beyond our control.”
A foreclosure judgment was entered against the 13 Great Lakes properties in November, according to Douglas County Circuit Court records. The sheriff’s sale is set to take place April 17. But it took a notice in the newspaper for the Wallen family to realize they may have to move.
“It came as a total shock to me,” Crocker said.
They got along well with their landlord.
“That’s, I think, why we were so hurt,” she said, but even after they told him what they knew, he declined to speak with them about the foreclosure.
A message left with Great Lakes Properties & Investments was not returned as of press time. Subsequent calls to the business were not picked up, and no voice message option was available.
The Tenant Resource Center in Madison, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting positive relations between rental housing consumers and providers throughout Wisconsin, has a host of information, including a brochure explaining tenant rights in foreclosure situations. It can be accessed through the center’s website, http://tenantresourcecenter.org.