Renters Beware

Real Estate Sales Representative with Fieldstone Real Estate

Imagine this:  You're at home, having a weekend cookout with friends.  There's a knock at your door.  It's a real estate agent.  He explains your landlord lost the property when the bank foreclosed.  He wants to know how quickly you can move.  He offers you a hundred dollars if you can move by next weekend, if you can't, they'll start the eviction process immediately.


What?  Eviction?  Wait!  You've been paying your rent.  You have a lease. The owner never said anything.  What's going on?  


This scenario is happening with increasing frequency.  Renters are shocked to learn that even if they pay their rent, landlords have no obligation to use that money to pay the mortgage payment.  In most cases, the renters can forget trying to recover their security deposit.


What can you do to protect yourself? 


First, consider renting from a professional, established owner/landlord.  For example, apartment or other rental communities are usually a safe bet, plus they often offer other services and amenities not found with privately owned homes.


If you can not find a rental community that fits your needs, I suggest you contact a real estate agent who can help you evaluate the risks associated with renting from private landlords. 


You run a lower risk of running into this situation if the property was recently purchased by the current owner or if the property has been an investment property for many years.  If the owner had listed the property "for sale" or "for rent", beware!  These are desperation moves by an owner.  Owners in this situation have been unable to sell their home and are usually in financial distress. 


After you've moved in, keep your eyes peeled for other signs. If an owner fails to conduct maintenance on the property, if the landlord seems to be dodging your calls, or you see bank notices addressed to him, these could all be a sign of problems to come. 


In the "good ole' days" the landlords screened the tenants.  Today, smart tenants are screening their landlords, too.



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David Bennett
Tarbell, Realtors - Yorba Linda, CA
Yorba Linda Real Estate

Cash for keys is becoming much more popular...scary stuff!

Jul 01, 2008 08:07 AM #2
Darin Haughie
Esslinger-Wooten-Maxwell, Inc. (EWM) - Pinecrest, FL

This is a everyday thing in Miami, get the deposit don't pay the mortgage and get out of town, sad that some renters haven't a clue.

Jul 01, 2008 08:08 AM #3
Lorinda Ward
Keffer Realty - Norfolk, VA
Serving, Hampton Roads Virginia. Norfolk, Chesapeake, Va Beach

That is something to think about.  Great post and have a wonderful day.

Jul 01, 2008 08:09 AM #4
Larry Story
Total Care Realty - Greensboro, NC
Total Care Realty, LLC, Greensboro, NC Real Estate


I actually had this happen to me about twenty years ago.  I will never forget it.  I was renting from a young couple that had just gotten out of the Navy and moved up North.  We had been renting for about  5 months through Century 21.  I was at home one night and sitting inside and a knock was at the door.  My wife answered and there stood a friend of mine.  He was looking for the owners.   He came in and we started talking.  Well, he had started a courier business after school and did some process serving also.   Well, it seems the owners had not made one payment since they left.  I kept sending my money to C 21 and they kept sending him his cut.  He had not made one payment so the VA foreclosed.

I usually will work it in to get proof from the property manager monthly that the mortgage payment has been made.


Hope this helps,


Jul 01, 2008 08:25 AM #5
Todd Clark
eXp Realty LLC - Tigard, OR
Principle Broker Oregon

It is a shame that scams happen on both sides of the transaction. This is why I tell people to have things written in to contracts that say that the security deposit be put in to an escrow account.

Todd Clark, Helping Families Home -

Jul 03, 2008 05:18 PM #6
Vicky Chrisner
Fieldstone Real Estate - Leesburg, VA

Todd - you make a point.  Here in Virginia, that is the law.  However, the landlord can be (usually is)the one responsible for maintaining the escrow account. Thanks for your comment.  Anyone else have a suggestion on how renters can reduce negative impacts for this?

Jul 03, 2008 05:36 PM #7
* Rate A Home
Rate A Home - Saugatuck, MI

Vicky, after we sold our home and had to move quickly we chose to rent, 2 days ago I got a call from the original landlord who said that the new buyer defaulted on the land contact and he now has to evict (according to his attorney) the tenant, me. He is nice about it and our rent is up to date, other then we sent it to the new supposed owner and now have to chase him down for the payment as well as send July's payment (which will make it a double payment) to the land contact holder now owner. Because he knew of us before selling, he said no problem with remaining, but it's a legal move he had to do. Great post to make all aware, never would have guessed it could happen to us.

Jul 04, 2008 04:35 AM #8
Amy McCaskill

I would like to know if our land lord is putting our house that we rent up for sell, do we have to let the realtor come take pics of the inside? I am really put off she keeps pushing and so far we keep saying NO. So please some one help!!!!!

Jul 16, 2008 10:20 AM #9
Vicky Chrisner

Amy - yes, it is your landlord's house.  They can put it up for sale, and it can be shown, etc.  All would require reasonable notice.  Not sure what state you're in, but if you are in Virginia, feel free to call me or email me directly w/ questions. 703-669-3142 or

Jul 16, 2008 10:34 AM #10
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