Foreclosure can happen to renters, too - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Foreclosure can happen to renters, too

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WALLA WALLA, Wash. - Plenty of people have lost their homes to foreclosure in this economy. But those who rent homes haven't had anything to worry about, right? Wrong!

According to a national report by CoreLogic, there were nearly 16,000 homes foreclosed on in Washington State this past year. Although Jeremy Gonzalez and his wife aren't homeowners, they still fell victim to one of those in Walla Walla.

"We started to realize we just didn't have any rights," said Gonzalez. "At all."

After signing a one year lease, Jeremy and Hailey's family are moving out of their house long before those twelve months are up.

"A few months ago we started to see people come around our house taking pictures and we're like, 'that's weird.' So we contacted our landlord," said Gonzalez. "He said, don't worry about it, I'll take care of it."

But he didn't take care of it. He let the bank take over. The landlord had stopped paying the mortgage about the time the Gonzalez family moved in.

"Even though the failure of the mortgage payments was no fault of the tenants it really doesn't matter," said lawyer Jeff Burkhart.

He explained renters only have rights as far as the landlord does.

"After a foreclosure occurs, the interest in land is terminated for that landlord and the successors, also," said Burkhart. "In this case, it would be the tenants, they lose their interest in land also."

"As renters, you just hope you're dealing with someone who doesn't want to sell their house soon, or is paying their mortgage and you go from there," said Gonzalez.

As far as the law goes, renters have no legal rights to the property. The clock starts ticking at the trustee's sale. Tenants then have 60 days to get out of the home, as per the new owners.