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Is Your Landlord Going Through Foreclosure? What a Tenant Needs to Know

This article was produced by LARCC in cooperation with CLS, GHLA, NHLAA, and SLS.

Is Your Landlord Going Through Foreclosure? What a Tenant Needs to Know

The building I live in is being foreclosed. What does this mean?

Foreclosure is a court process. It can happen if the owner is behind on mortgage payments or property taxes.

Note: We use "bank" to mean the person or company who is bringing the foreclosure action. Banks are not the only ones who can bring a foreclosure.

Who owns and is responsible for the property?

Protect Yourself... Know Your Rights

If you have a Section 8 or RAP voucher OR you are on state welfare, tell your worker right away about the foreclosure.

Keep paying your rent! If you stop paying, you could be evicted.

You can’t be forced to move out right away!

Find out if you are named as a defendant.

Keep reading to find out more.

During a foreclosure, the old landlord still owns the property and is responsible for it. At the end of a foreclosure, the bank or a new landlord owns the property and is responsible for it. The new owner must give you the name and address of the person in charge of the property in writing.

Will the foreclosure affect me?

Yes. The new owner may be able to use the foreclosure to evict you. In the meantime, you can take steps to protect your rights.

Protect Yourself... Know Your Rights

  • If you have a Section 8 or RAP voucher OR you are on state welfare, tell your worker about the foreclosure as soon as you find out about it. Tell your worker even if you have not received court papers naming you as a defendant.
  • Keep paying your rent! If you stop paying your rent, you could be evicted. 
    • Keep paying rent to your old landlord unless the court tells you to pay rent to someone else. If you stop paying rent to your landlord, your landlord could evict you.
    • If the court orders a "receiver of rents," you will get a notice saying you must begin paying your rent to the receiver instead of your landlord. If you do not pay the rent to the receiver, the receiver could evict you.
  • You cannot be forced to move out right away!
    • In most cases, you will have at least 90 days to move after the foreclosure is done, and you will often have longer.
    • The bank can never force you to leave while the foreclosure is still going on. Only a judge can order you to move.
  • Find out if you are named as a defendant. 
    • If you don't know whether you are a defendant, call or go to the court clerk’s of! ce and ask the clerk to look up the case for you.
    • If you are named as a defendant, do not ignore the foreclosure!  Pay attention to court deadlines and file your court papers on time.
      Note: The court papers must list your name as a defendant (not just "John Doe" or "Jane Doe").
  • If you are on state welfare, you may be eligible for emergency housing benefits. Tell your DSS worker as soon as you know about the foreclosure. You can apply for emergency housing benefits as soon as a judgment has been entered in the foreclosure. If you filed your Appearance, you will get a notice of the date of judgment and the law day or sale date in the mail. Take this notice to your worker as soon as you get it.

Click here if you are NOT named as a defendant.

6 Things to do... If You ARE Named as a Defendant

  • When you get the first court papers (Summons and Complaint forms), you should act quickly.

1. Talk to a lawyer.

2.  Find the return date on the Summons.

3.  File an Appearance form within 2 days of the return date. If you have missed this deadline, file an Appearance anyway.

4.  File an Answer form if you do not want to move or if you are willing to move but need time.

5. Keep paying your rent to the landlord or the receiver.

6. Go to the court hearing on the Motion for Judgment (foreclosure).

1. Talk to a lawyer. 

Talking to a lawyer is especially important if your building has 5 or more apartments or if you are on Section 8.

Call Statewide Legal Services at 800-453-3320 for help.

2. Find the return date on the Summons form.

A marshal will serve you with a Summons and Complaint form. The papers do not have to be handed to you to be considered served--they can be slid under the door to your apartment.

The return date is in the upper right corner of the Summons. You must know the return date to figure out the deadlines for filing court papers.

3. File an Appearance form within 2 days after the return date. If you miss this deadline, file it anyway.

The Appearance form is important because it tells the court you are not ignoring the foreclosure. Once you file the Appearance, you will get a notice of everything that happens in court.

If you miss the 2-day deadline, file your Appearance anyway.
It is better to file it late than not at all.

To file an Appearance:

  • Get an Appearance form at the court clerk's office or online (www.jud.ct.gov/webforms/forms/cl012.pdf).
  • Fill out the form and file it at the court clerk's office. If you need help, ask the court clerk to help you fill it out.

4. File an Answer form within 15 days after the return date. If you miss this deadline, file it anyway.

If you do not want to move or if you are willing to move but need time, you should file an Answer form and the "Special Defenses" section on it. (See box below.)

If you miss the 15-day deadline, file your Answer anyway. It is better to file it late than not at all.

To file an Answer:

  • Get an Answer form at the court clerk's office or online (www.jud.ct.gov/webforms/forms/hm005.pdf).
  • Fill out the form. In the "Special Defenses" section, write down the reasons you feel you should not be forced to move. (The strongest reasons are shown below).
  • File the Answer form at the court clerk's office. You can file this form at the same time that you file your Appearance. File it even if you miss the deadline.

Filling out "Special Defenses" on the Answer form

  • You should file this defense in every case:

I am protected by the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act and the bank should not be allowed to evict me in the foreclosure action.

  • And, write down any of these that apply to you:

— I live in a building with 5 or more units (or in a mobile home park) and I am physically disabled, blind or at least 62 years old (or my spouse, brother, sister, parent or grandparent who permanently lives with me is at least 62 years old). If this is true, the bank cannot forceyou to move out at all.

— I have a Section 8 voucher or I live in subsidized housing. 

— I have a lease that is not expired.

— It will be a hardship for me to move. (Write the reason.)

5. Keep paying your rent to the landlord or the receiver.

6. Go to the court hearing on the Motion for Judgment.

  • The court will hold a hearing and decide how long your landlord has to try to save the building. You should go to the hearing.


If you live in a building with at least 5 apartments and you or someone in your house is at least 62 years old or you are physically disabled, tell the judge that the law says you can stay as a tenant, no matter what the bank wants.

  • Tell the judge if you want to stay or if you’ll need more than 90 days after the end of the foreclosure to move.

You can explain to the judge any special circumstances. For example, tell the judge

  • if you have children and you want them to complete the school year in the school they attend, or
  • if you or someone in your family is very ill.
It is up to the judge to decide how much time to give you to move.

How much time will I get to move?

If You ARE Named as a Defendant

You have at least 90 days after the foreclosure is over and the new owner gets title to the property to move.

You can stay longer than 90 days if:

  • You live in a building with 5 or more apartments and someone in your household is at least 62 years old or physically disabled. The new owner may ask you toshow proof of your age or disability.
  • You have a lease that ends after the 90 days are up. The new owner may ask to see a copy of the lease.
  • You are on Section 8 or RAP.  Tell the lawyer the name of the housing authority that handles your Section 8 or RAP. Also call your worker at the housing authority and tell him that your building has a new owner. The new owner must take over the Section 8 voucher as long as the lease is in effect.

If I don?t qualify for extra time to move but need more than 90 days:

  • Call the lawyer for the new owner and explain your situation. Ask for more time to move.
  • If the lawyer will not give you extra time, go to the court clerk?s office and file a Motion for Extension of Time to Move. Call Statewide Legal Services.

    A judge will look at your Motion. The judge can decide to give you more time, even if the new owner doesn?t want to give you more time.

What happens if I don't move by the deadline?

If You ARE Named as a Defendant

If you have not moved out by the deadline date (and you are a defendant), the new owner can have a marshal ?eject? you from the property.

1. A marshal will give you a copy of the court order, called an Execution for Ejectment. You may get as little as 24 hours before you have to move. The Execution for Ejectment will tell you the date and time the marshal will move you out.

2. On the day and time in the notice, the marshal will come with movers. The movers will take your things and place them in storage. The movers might not be gentle and things may be lost or broken. If you do not claim your things within 15 days, the town can auction off whatever is left in storage.

If you were NOT named in the foreclosure action with your own name, a marshal cannot eject you. If the marshal tells you he plans to put you out even though you weren?t named as a defendant, talk to a lawyer right away.

I am NOT named as a defendant. How much time will I get to move?

If You are NOT Named as a Defendant

To evict you, the bank must bring an eviction (summary process) action against you. The bank must wait 90 days after the foreclosure is ! nished before it can start an eviction. The amount of time you have depends on why you?'re being evicted.

  • If you have a lease that has more than 90 days left, you can stay until the lease is over unless the new owner wants to use your home as his main residence. 
  • If your building has 5 or more apartments and you or a member of your household is at least 62 years old or you are physically disabled, you can’t be forced to move at all.

No matter what, the new owner has to give you 90-days notice before they can start an eviction.
The 90 days can?t start until AFTER the foreclosure is finished and the property passes to the new owner.

Information for ALL tenants (Named and not named as defendants)

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

Sometimes the bank will offer you money to move out earlier than you legally have to move. Think very carefully before you take this type of offer. Many of these "cash for keys" offers do not comply with the law and may not be a good deal. You never have to accept any offer. The bank DOESN’T have to offer you money to move out, but if it does, the offer must be at least the HIGHEST of:

  • two months' rent,
  • two times your security deposit (including interest); or
  • $2,000.00.

The offer should always be for at least $2,000 and may have to be for more. If you are offered less than $2,000 or less than the minimum amount that applies to you, contact the Attorney General's office at 860-808-5318 or by email attorney.general@po.ct.state.us.

Think carefully before you take a "cash for keys" offer.  It may not be a good deal.

Don’t take a "cash for keys" offer unless the money is enough to allow you to move and you have a place to move to. You may do better in court because you will usually get more time to move than you are being offered in the "cash for keys" deal. Weigh these options and make the choice that works best for you and your family.

After the foreclosure

Who is responsible for repairs and utilities after the foreclosure?

After a foreclosure, the new owner is responsible for repairs, maintenance and utility services that your previous landlord supplied. The new owner must give you the name and address of the person in charge of the property. If you don’t know the name and address, call the person from the bank who contacted you about the foreclosure.

The new owner should make any repairs. If he does not, call the town housing or building code agency and make a complaint. It is always a good idea to put your complaints in writing. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. See our booklet, Tenants' Rights: Repairs.

If the old landlord paid heat or utilities and the bank or new owner stops paying or providing services, call the police right away. See our booklet, Energy & Utility Problems with Landlords.

Should I pay rent after the foreclosure?

YES - but be careful. Pay with a check or money order from the bank or post office. Write on the memo line "Rent in full for [name of month]."  You should pay the rent to the new owner, not your old landlord. If you don't know who the new owner is, try to find out. Ask the court clerk for help.

If the new owner doesn’t accept your rent, save the money and try not to spend it. Write a letter to the new owner or the new owner's agent offering to pay your rent. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.

How do I get my security deposit back?

Whoever owns the property when you move out is responsible for returning your security deposit. It doesn?t matter if the old landlord never gave the security deposit to the new owner.

• When you move out, write a letter to the new owner.

If you're not sure who the owner is, write the letter to the bank’s representative (the attorney, realtor, or anyone else who has contacted you).

Include:

  • your forwarding address
  • a copy of the receipt for the security deposit, if you can. (If you have a Section 8 or RAP voucher, your worker may have records that show the amount of the security deposit you paid.)

• Mail your letter both by regular mail and by certified mail with return receipt requested.

• Keep a copy of the letter.

The owner has 30 days after you move to return your deposit plus interest.

If you have problems getting your deposit back, call Statewide Legal Services. You can also call the State Banking Department at 860-240-8154 or 1-800-831-7225 ext. 8154. See our booklet, Tenants' Rights: Security Deposits.

This booklet was produced by the Legal Assistance Resource Center of Connecticut in cooperation with Connecticut Legal Services, Greater Hartford Legal Aid, New Haven Legal Assistance Association, and Statewide Legal Services.

The information in this booklet is based on laws in Connecticut as of October 2012. We hope that the information is helpful. It is not intended as legal advice for an individual situation. Please call Statewide Legal Services or contact an attorney for additional help.  © October 2012

For more information, contact:

Statewide Legal Services: 860-344-0380 (Central CT & Middletown) or 1-800-453-3320 (all other regions).

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