The “Helping Families Save Their Home Act of 2009” (S.896) went into effect on May 20, 2009, and includes the “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act” (PTFA), as well as amendments to Section 8 of the “United States Housing Act of 1937.” Both portions of the bill establish new Federal protections for tenants living in properties that go into foreclosure. This law preempts current state laws except where a state’s law provides stronger protections for the tenant. The PTFA included a sunset clause which scheduled this law to expire on December 31, 2012.
Effective May 20th, tenants with a “bona fide” lease that was entered into before notice of foreclosure can remain in a foreclosed home until the end of their lease, unless the bank sells the property to someone who intends to make it his/her primary residence. If the new owner intends to occupy the home, they are still required to give 90-days notice to the tenant prior to eviction. If the tenant does not have a lease (month-to-month) or current state law allows the lease to be terminated at will, there is still a 90-day notice requirement prior to eviction. Notice must be provided by the “immediate successor in interest” which, in most cases, would be the bank or the new owner.
The Act was designed to be silent on several issues which means state law will need to be consulted for further clarification.