By Dean Preston

With the foreclosure crisis certain to continue for years, housing advocates are hoping to make permanent the new protections for tenants in foreclosed properties that became law in May 2009. The Protecting Tenants At Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) allows tenants to stay in their homes after foreclosure for at least 90 days or until the end of their lease term, whichever is later, with limited exceptions. The law is scheduled to sunset on December 31, 2012.

Thanks to the National Low Income Housing Coalition for the following update on Rep. Ellison’s important effort to remove the sunset provision:

On March 4, Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) introduced legislation to repeal the sunset date for the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA).

The PTFA, which was enacted May 20, 2009 (P.L. 111-22) requires the immediate successor in interest at foreclosure (the person or entity acquiring title at foreclosure) to provide bona fide tenants with 90 days’ notice prior to eviction. Bona fide tenants with leases must be allowed to occupy the property until the end of the lease term, except the lease can be terminated on 90 days notice if the unit is sold to a purchaser who will occupy the property. Tenants with Section 8 housing choice voucher assistance have additional protections that allow them to retain both their Section 8 lease and require that the successor in interest assume the housing assistance payment contract associated with that lease.

Currently, these provisions are set to expire at the end of 2012. H.R. 4766 would eliminate the sunset in the current law and extend the PTFA protections indefinitely. Representatives Maxine Waters (D-CA), Michael Capuano (D-MA), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) joined Mr. Ellison in introducing this bill. H.R. 4766 was referred to the House Committee on Financial Services.

Despite the fact that many banks and their agents violate the PTFA, there is no question that the law has had a big impact in California and across the country. The PTFA provides tenants much-needed time to find new housing when they are pushed out after foreclosure. Of course, the PTFA does not solve the fundamental problem which is that banks continue to evict tenants after foreclosure for no good reason, but the federal law does provide an important minimum protection for tenants.

Tenants Together is tracking the progress of the federal effort to extend the PTFA beyond the current sunset date. For more information on the PTFA and other tenant protection laws, be sure to sign up for our email updates at The PTFA is also discussed in our recent Shelterforce article entitled “The Federal Move to Protect Tenants.”

Dean Preston, the Executive Director of Tenants Together, publishes a weekly column for Beyond Chron.