Tenants caught in their landlords foreclosure have valuable mess - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Tenants caught in their landlords foreclosure have valuable message

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Foreclosure is never good for any homeowner, but what happens when tenants are kicked out because their landlord isn't paying the mortgage?

It turns out there aren't any state laws, in Georgia, that protect tenants in this case. One family found that out the hard way; they said this whole situation has them scared about renting again.

Tenants with a long-term lease may have grounds to stay in their home. If you're on a month to month lease, you too could find yourself in the same position as this family.

The packing started rather abruptly inside the Mumford house. One word describes their situation.

"Terrifying. It's terrifying,” said Kasandra Mumford.

The bad news came when a realtor knocked on the door recently telling them their house was foreclosed.

"And I'm like, excuse me? Because I don't own a house so I shouldn't have a foreclosure,” said Mumford.

It turns out that the $700 a month they were paying their landlord never went to the mortgage. Now, the bank owns the home. They want the Mumfords out no later than June 3. The Mumfords feel like they're being punished for their landlord's foreclosure.

"Yes, I feel like because the landlord, can't find her, or they can't punish her, maybe the way that they feel as though they need to, then we're the fall guys for it," said Mumford.

The bank offered them money to move out by May 23 or June 3. The Mumfords said finding a place—not the money—is their main concern.

When it comes to state law, a real estate attorney said nothing requires the landlord to pay their mortgage.

"Landlords are the owners of property, have an agreement with their mortgage company to pay, but there's no law that requires. If they don't pay, they're going to lose their property,” said Billy Norse, an attorney with Dyches Law Group.

Worst case, the bank will file a dispossessory act notifying you that you're being kicked out. Norse said you should always respond.

"They need to file a response, it will give them an opportunity to have a hearing in court, and then in court they can tell their story to the judge. Doesn't mean it's going to change anything but it'll give them more time to make arrangements to get out of the house," said Norse.

The Mumfords hope other month-to-month renters see their problem and learn from it.

"I would suggest that before you sign a lease, that you get an understanding about who owns the property, and what's going to happen if the person does pay or go into foreclosure," said Mumford.

They also hope the bank sees the difficulties they're having and gives them leniency.

"We're humans, we're not trash. We shouldn't be treated as trash. We should be treated just like anyone else."

Until then, the packing will continue.

The agent said he feels like the bank is being fair and giving this family an opportunity to move in a timely manner.  He is also connecting them with a lender to see if they qualify as buyers.

The Mumfords hope sharing their story sends a valuable message to other renters.

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