Action Guide for California Tenants in Foreclosure Situations

It is crucial that you learn as soon as possible what stage in the foreclosure process your landlord is in.

The table below charts the fastest possible time line for a foreclosure in California.  However, the process can be significantly longer.

Fastest Possible Time Line for a California Foreclosure
Redemption Period
 Publication  Trustee Sale
 Day 1 to Day 90  Day 91  Day 111 or after
Notice of Default is filed by lender, giving loan holder one last chance (typically 90 days) to cure problem Notice of Trustee Sale is served to occupant (including tenant) stating that the foreclosure sale will occur in 20 days A Public Auction is held at which the property is either acquired by a private investor or goes back to the bank

Tenants are generally not notified of the filing of the Notice of Default, however this is public information.  After the Trustee Sale:

  • Tenants with month-to-month leases have the right to a 90-day notice to vacate (with some exceptions)
  • Tenants with long-term leases have the right to stay through the term of their lease (with some exceptions)

Learn and Assert Your Rights

At a minimum, you have the following rights:

  • The right to continued maintenance, repairs, and utility services during and after foreclosure
  • The right to the return of your security deposit after you vacate your home
  • The right to be free from harassment, retaliation, discrimination, and improper entries into your home
  • The right to stay in your home until the legal termination of your tenancy by written notice.  After foreclosure:
    • Tenants with long-term leases have the right to stay through the term of their lease (with some exceptions)
    • Tenants with month-to-month leases have the right to a 90-day notice to vacate (with some exceptions)
    • Some tenants in cities with ‘just-cause’ ordinances may be able to stay in their home indefinitely after foreclosure
  • The right to contest an eviction in court
  • The right to not be locked out except by a sheriff after a court proceeding

Learning your rights is just the first step.  Your rights are not worth much unless you are willing to assert them.  If you believe your rights are being violated, you should:

  • Demand that all communication from your landlord be in writing
  • Document in writing the harassment experienced
  • Report non-compliance of tenant protection laws to federal, state, and local agencies
  • The landlord or the landlord’s agent must give you 24 hours advance notice before entering the unit, and can enter only during normal business hours, Monday through Friday 9-5, except in response to an emergency. (CA Civil Code section 1954)
  • Consider suing a landlord who violates your rights
  • Consider contesting an eviction in court

For more information and discussion topics, go to our Foreclosure Forum (click on FORUM at top of the page)

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