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Tenants Don't Have to Move Right Away In a Foreclosure

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

Tenants Don't Have to Move Right Away In a Foreclosure

You do NOT have to move right away when your building is foreclosed.

You are protected by state and federal laws.  Here's information about how you can protect your rights.

Find out your landlord's foreclosure status.

If you think your landlord is being foreclosed on, call the Superior Court clerk's office. Give the clerk the name of your landlord to find out whether your landlord is in foreclosure and whether your landlord still owns the property. You can also go to the clerk's office to check the files yourself.

If your landlord is in foreclosure and still owns the property:

1. Keep paying your rent! If you stop paying your rent, your landlord can evict you for not paying the rent.

2. Keep track of the foreclosure. Not all foreclosures go through. Many are resolved.

If the foreclosure is done and your landlord no longer owns the property:

There are two types of foreclosure, strict foreclosure or foreclosure by sale.

1. In a strict foreclosure, the new owner is the plaintiff in the foreclosure action.

2. In a foreclosure by sale, the court clerk can give you contact information for the sale committee.  The sale committee can tell you who the new owner is.  If a sign for an auction was put in front of your building your landlord was going through a foreclosure by sale.

You should get a letter or a visit from someone representing the new owner.  This person might offer you a "cash for keys" deal to try to get you to move out of the property right away.

You don't have to move out right away.

  • If you have a written lease, you have the right to stay until the end of the lease.
  • If you don’t have a written lease, the new owner has to give you at least 90 days notice before starting an eviction against you.
  • If an eviction begins, you have the right to go to Housing Court and ask the judge to give you up to 6 months in your apartment while you look for a new place to live. Remember, you do not have to move until a judge in an eviction case tells you that you have to be out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I take an offer of money to move out of my rental unit right away ("cash for keys")?

  • The new owner may offer you money to move out before the 90 days are up. It is your choice to take the offer or not.  You should not take it unless you have another place to live and the money offered covers your moving costs, first month's rent, security deposit and housing-related expenses in your next apartment. Otherwise, going to court may be a better option.
  • The bank DOESN’T have to offer you money to move out, but if it does, the offer must be the HIGHEST of: 1) two month's rent, 2) two times the security deposit (including interest), or 3) $2,000. If the bank offers you "cash for keys," the offer should therefore almost always be for at least $2,000 and may have to be for more. If the offer is less than this amount, don't agree; contact the Attorney General's office at 860-808-5318.

What if I have a lease and I am served with eviction papers?

  • According to Connecticut law, you can stay in your apartment for the full term of the lease. The new owner will be able to evict you only if you break any of the rules of your lease.  The only exception to this rule is if the new owner wants to live in your apartment, in which case you are still entitled to 90 days before you can be forced to move.
  • If an eviction is started, all adult tenants  need to file an Appearance and Answer form at the Housing Court Clerk's office. You can get the forms online or from the court clerk. Check box #8 on the Special Defenses section of the answer, which says this eviction was brought after a foreclosure action, and the first box under that special defense, which says you  have a written lease that is still in effect. Call Statewide Legal Services at 800-453-3320 for possible legal representation.

What if I am not given the 90-day notice before the eviction process begins?

File an Appearance and Answer form with the Housing Court Clerk's office. You can get the forms online or from the court clerk. Check box #8 on the Special Defenses section of the answer, which says this eviction was brought after a foreclosure action, and the second box under that special defense, which says you never received a 90 day letter (notice) before the notice to quit was delivered (served). Call SLS at 800-453-3320 for possible legal representation.

Is it possible to stay on long-term as a tenant after foreclosure?

If the new owner of your building is the Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") or the Federal Home Loan Corporation ("Freddie Mac"), then you should be allowed to remain as a tenant and offered a new month-to-month lease, at least until the property is sold. If the new owner is a bank, you do not have the right to sign a new lease, but you should always tell the new owner that you want to stay and make sure to explain any special reasons why you think you be allowed to stay (for example, if you have a disability, have made a lot of renovations, or have children in school in the area).

What if I need more time to move than the 90 days and receive eviction papers?

  • If you do not leave within the 90 day period, the new owner can begin an eviction against you in court. You cannot be forced to move until the owner gets a court order. You have the right to file papers and to defend yourself and to ask for more time. See Legal Aid’s article, The Eviction Process...Before the Judge Decides.
  • You can tell the judge if your apartment is in bad shape or the owner acted illegally.  You can also ask the judge for more time to move. Make sure you can show you have been trying your best to find a new place or have another good reason for not leaving. The judge will look at your situation and decide when you must move.

When must I actually move out of the building?

Only a judge can tell you that you have to move. It is illegal for anyone to insist that you leave immediately or for anyone to lock you out of your unit. If this happens, you should call the police.

What if I have a Section 8 or other subsidized tenancy?

The new owner has to take over your Section 8 lease and the Housing Assistance Contract (HAP contract) with the Housing Authority. Make sure you tell your Housing Authority about the foreclosure. You have the same protections after foreclosure as any other tenant with a lease. With Section 8, you may have the right to have the lease renewed. The new owner cannot evict you before your lease is up unless you break the rules of your lease, or unless the new owner is planning to move into your apartment. Even then, you still get at least 90 days' notice before you have to move.

What if I am elderly or disabled?

If you are elderly or disabled and live in a building with five or more units, you have additional rights. Under state law, you may not be evicted just because the property was foreclosed. File an Appearance and Answer at the Housing Court and check box #7 on the Answer which states that you are elderly and disabled and live in a building with 5 or more units. Call Statewide Legal Services at 800-453-3320 for possible legal representation.

Is the new owner responsible for repairs and utilities?

  • The new owner has the same responsibilities as your old landlord. The new owner must keep the building in good repair. Find out from the new owner or someone who works for the owner who to contact if repairs are needed. You should write to the owner if you need repairs. If the new owner does not make the repairs, call the city or town code inspection department.
  • The new owner must provide the same utilities for you that your old landlord provided. If the new owner stops paying for utilities and you get a shutoff notice, contact the utility company right away and tell them you are a tenant. See Legal Aid’s article, Energy and Utility Problems with Landlords.

How do I pay the rent?

You should pay rent to the new owner. Do not pay the previous landlord. Find out who the new owner is, and offer the rent even if the new owner doesn't ask for it. Always write on the rent check or money order, "Rent for the month of _______". If you cannot find the owner, or the new owner refuses your rent payment, keep a record showing you tried to pay the rent. Save the rent money in a bank account or other safe place. If the owner later tries to evict you for failure to pay rent, you will have the money to show the court.

How do I get my security deposit back?

The new owner, not your old landlord, is responsible for returning your security deposit. The new owner may tell you that it cannot return your security deposit because it did not get the security deposit from your old landlord. That doesn't matter. Under Connecticut law, whoever owns the building at the time you move out is the one who must return your security deposit. Write a letter demanding the return of your deposit plus interest with your new address and keep a copy for your records. Send one copy regular mail and another copy certified mail return receipt requested. See Legal Aid’s article, Security Deposits.

For more information see Legal Aid’s article, Is Your Landlord Going through Foreclosure? What a Tenant Needs to Know.

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 12/2011. 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.

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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Most of the information on this web site is for Connecticut residents only. Visit LawHelp.org to find a legal services program and/or a legal information web site in your area.