With a slow downward trend in foreclosures overall, we've been curious to know how renters are being impacted by foreclosures, and what's changing over time. Based on local data, MHP has found that foreclosures on rental properties have decreased over the past few years. Yet foreclosures of rental properties still make up nearly one-fourth of all residential foreclosures in Ramsey and Hennepin counties. Extending protections to renters in foreclosure remains an urgent issue.
According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, renters continue to constitute 40 percent of the families facing foreclosure of their homes, with African-Americans and Latinos feeling the effects of the foreclosure crisis at disproportionately higher rates.
To understand more about the impact of foreclosures on local renters, MHP tabulated non-homestead foreclosures in Ramsey and Hennepin counties from 2008 to the first half of 2012. Properties can be classified as homestead properties only when they are the primary residence of the owner, so we used non-homestead properties as a proxy for renters. We found that while the overall rate of non-homestead foreclosures in Ramsey and Hennepin counties is decreasing (from 3,541 in 2008 to 1,561 in 2011) and is proportionately lower than the national average, they still comprise an alarmingly large proportion of overall residential foreclosures.
Renters in foreclosures gained widespread attention at the onset of the foreclosure crisis when renters across the country were being forced to vacate their homes with hardly any notice.
Minnesota was a national leader on this issue, passing laws to protect tenants in foreclosure. This early action set the stage for Congress to enact the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) nationally. Tenants are now able to stay in their homes until the end of their lease terms, and if they have no month-to-month lease, they must be given at least 90 days notice prior to eviction. PTFA is set to sunset at the end of 2014, and if it is not made permanent, many Americans may find themselves suddenly homeless to no fault of their own.
Rep. Keith Ellison introduced a bill to permanently extend PFTA's protections to tenants caught in the middle of foreclosures. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is expected to introduce a companion bill in the Senate. Considering the consistently high rate of non-homestead foreclosures, the protections of PFTA will be much needed.