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Connecticut Attorney General Steps Up Tenant Protection

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Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office is stepping up enforcement of national laws that protect renters whose landlords default on rental property loans, leading to a possible foreclosure. The federal Protecting Tenants At Foreclosure Act of 2009 (PTFA) allows all tenants in a defaulted property to stay in their homes after foreclosure for at least 90 days or until the end of their lease term, whichever is later, the AG’s office said. Blumenthal says he is issuing cease-and-desist letters to law firms, real estate companies, banks and servicers in order to stop these illegal evictions. The AG received complaints from tenants who were forced out of foreclosed properties after banks began evictions immediately after the foreclosure, despite a federal law that requires a 90-day eviction delay. Even more letters, he added, are on the way. “Tenants have rights to remain until their lease ends — rights that deserve respect and enforcement,” Blumenthal said at a recent press conference. “We’re warning banks and real estate interests: foreclosure is not excuse for illegal eviction. These cease-and-desist letters send a message to powerful property owners that foreclosure gives them no right to engage in automatic eviction en masse.” Many times, these tenants may be current on rent, but still get eviction because of the landlord’s dire financial situation. In addition to the hardship this creates for the tenant, Blumenthal’s office said the vacant properties drive down prices and many times become rundown and damaged by vandals. “Fast-track evictions not only harm tenants, but turn vacant properties into eyesores and even crime havens, diminishing values neighborhood wide,” Blumenthal said. “Tenants should remain in homes as long as possible — potentially providing extra income to the new property owner, and benefiting everyone.” So far, Blumenthal’s office has issued 30 cease and desist letters to companies that may have engaged in eviction practices that violate PTFA, including 15 bank and mortgage servicers, nine law firms and six real estate companies, notifying the companies of their legal obligations and requesting compliance with the federal law. “Tenants in foreclosed properties — victims of their landlord’s financial failures — deserve to be treated fairly and lawfully when forced to find a new home,” Blumenthal said. “Law firms, Realtors and lenders have moral and legal obligations to provide fair notice and time for tenants to find alternative housing after foreclosures.” Write to Austin Kilgore.

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