Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bay Area Legal Aid Wins Appeal For Tenants in Foreclosed Homes

By Spencer Wilson, Bay Area Legal Aid

The Appellate Division of Contra Costa County Superior Court handed down a major victory for California’s innocent tenant victims of foreclosure.  The three judge panel reversed a trial court decision to evict a low-income single mother and her three school-age children from a foreclosed home they lawfully occupied. With the assistance of Bay Area Legal Aid’s Tenants After Foreclosure Project, the displaced tenants appealed the faulty decision, arguing that the trial court had misapplied a new federal law and a new state law designed to help tenants living in foreclosed properties.
The trial court erred by holding that a 30-Day notice was sufficient basis for an eviction lawsuit,  even though tenants in foreclosed properties are entitled to more time before an eviction lawsuit can be brought.  Under the recently enacted Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), tenants in foreclosed properties are entitled to a 90-day notice prior to commencement of an eviction lawsuit.  A similar state law entitles these tenants to a 60-day notice. 
The Appellate Division recognized the errors of the trial court, reversed the decision, and ordered the trial court to dismiss the eviction lawsuit. This decision elucidates the federal and state protections for tenants in foreclosed properties and will help ensure that the rights of these often overlooked victims of the foreclosure crisis are enforced by our courts.
The Tenants After Foreclosure Project, funded by a fellowship from the William Wayne Justice Center at the University of Texas School of Law, addresses the unique legal needs of low-income tenants living in foreclosed properties in Contra Costa County via direct legal services coupled with educational and outreach efforts. 

For more information, please contact Project Attorney, Spencer Wilson at (510) 903-2623. 

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