What are my rights as a tenant when evicted from a dwelling without proper notification?

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What are my rights as a tenant when evicted from a dwelling without proper notification?

The apartment my son and I were living in was in foreclosure. The sheriff came to serve papers; I informed him I was the tenant and not the owner. On 09/12 I came home to find several police officers, a sheriff, and a moving company in my apartment removing my belongings. They refused to allow me access to the unit or to my belongings. I am a single father, now homeless. What are my legal rights?

Asked on October 6, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Hawaii

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Assuming that there were no grounds for your eviction (non-payment or other breach of your lease), federal law gives some rights and protection to a tenant if their rental unit is foreclosed upon. The “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act” requires that when a home goes into foreclosure, tenants who have a written lease can continue to occupy the home until the end of the lease period, or 90 days, whichever is longer. The only exception would be if the new owner intends to move in and occupy the home as their primary residence. In that case, a 90 day notice to move would apply. Those tenants with a month-to-month lease, or no lease at all, have to be given at least 90 days notice to move. Additionally, in cases where state law provides more protection than the federal law, the state law applies.

At this point, you need to speak to an attorney as to your specific rights in such a case. Since money is an issue, see if you qualify for representation by Legal Aid or see if they can recommend someone to help you.  Also, check if there is a law school nearby to where you live; they typically run free/low cost clinics that handle these type cases.  Additionally you can contact the local Bar Association in your county; they may have a list of attorneys who will take your case "pro bono" (for free) or at least for a reduced fee based on your income/circumstances.  Finally, contact your state's Department of Social Services, they may be able to refer you to free legal services.


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