After a foreclosure on a property, there are certain processes a person must follow to evict the residents of the foreclosed property. Different rules apply to former owners living on the property versus tenants who occupy the foreclosed property. As the new owner, you have options about how to proceed, but you must do so within the bounds of complex Washington law.
If you recently foreclosed on a property in Washington and that property is currently occupied by either the former owners or tenants, experienced eviction attorney Quinn Posner has the knowledge and experience to help you recover what is yours and comply with Washington law.
Does the Tenant Have to Leave After Foreclosure?
Not necessarily. In fact, as the new owner, if there are tenants living on the property you may wish to preserve the tenant and continue to collect the rent. There are many benefits to keeping a good tenant if that is what you as the new owner wish to do.
If you choose to keep the new tenant, you must:
- provide notice to the tenant of the new ownership, and indicate in writing that you wish to allow the tenant to remain;
- provide a new rental agreement to the tenant:
- the new agreement may state new terms or you may make the new agreement identical to the terms of the tenant's previous agreement; and
- provide information about where rent is to be paid.
If you wish to keep the tenant, open a line of communication with them about the terms of the new rental agreement. You now have the obligations of a landlord and may need experienced legal advice about how to be a landlord.
This article is not meant to cover all of the obligations of your new status of a landlord if you choose that course of action. The eviction pages on this site will help inform you of your obligations under Washington law but may not be the full picture depending on your unique circumstances.
Eviction After Foreclosure
After a rental property is foreclosed upon, specific eviction processes apply to tenants in the property or owners of the property who refuse to vacate.
- Owners of the Property: The owners of the property and any other non-tenant occupants are required to vacate 20 days after the foreclosure sale.
- Tenants of the Property: If tenants live on the property, state law requires the foreclosure purchaser to give tenants 60-days notice to vacate the rental property. However, under federal law, a "bona fide tenant" is entitled to 90-days notice of eviction rather than 60-days notice.
Bona Fide Tenant
To be a "bona fide tenant," all of the following must be true.
- You must not be the spouse, child, or parent of the former owner of the property.
- The lease or tenancy must have been the result of an "arm's length transaction" and not a special deal between family or friends.
- The rental amount must be a fair market rent, not on a discount basis, or the rent must be lower as the result of a government program that subsidizes the rent.
If the person is a bona fide tenant, they are entitled to 90-days notice of the eviction under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009, a federal law.
Under federal law, the tenant is required to pay rent to the new owner, even during that 90-day period prior to eviction. However, if the tenant fails to pay rent, the 90-day notice remains the same.
Not a Bona Fide Tenant
If the tenant is not a bona fide tenant, he or she is still entitled to a 60-day notice to evict under Washington state law. During that time period, a new owner may not evict the tenant unless they commit waste or nuisance on the property. Non-payment of rent is not a reason to evict the tenant early.
Former Owner or Tenant's Refusal to Leave the Property
After the applicable notice period has passed, depending on the status of the occupier of the premises, if the occupant(s) choose not to leave, you may now initiate eviction proceedings. This is assuming you have chosen not to allow the current tenants to remain.
Eviction proceedings must also be conducted according to strict protocols set forth by Washington law. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can ensure you follow the law and successfully remove any holdover owners or tenants.
Things to Avoid
As the new owner of the property, there are a number of actions you should completely avoid, or risk violating Washington or even Federal law.
Do Not Evict Early
Do not attempt to evict a tenant early from the premises. If you file for eviction early, your case will be thrown out of court, wasting your time and money. Further, you may be subject to financial sanctions for violating a tenant's rights, which you do not want to pay. With legal help, you can avoid these pitfalls.
Do Not Engage in "Self Help"
A "self-help" eviction is one of the worst things a new owner can do. Self-help evictions include actions such as changing the locks, removing the tenant's possessions, shutting off utilities, or blocking access to the property.
Ignoring Landlord Duties
If you decide to keep your tenant, you should not ignore the duties you have chosen to accept as a landlord. You may already be a landlord and be familiar with your duties. If not, you must educate yourself quickly so as to protect your rights and the rights of your tenant.
Consult a Washington Eviction/Unlawful Detainer Attorney
If you have recently foreclosed on a property and the property is occupied by the former owners or a tenant, there are strict Washington laws that you must follow. There are specific steps that must be followed to successfully and legally evict a tenant, but with the help of a knowledgeable attorney, you can feel confident that your rights as the new owner are cared for.
Experienced eviction attorney Quinn Posner represents clients in Camas, Washougal, Vancouver, and the rest of Clark County. Contact Quinn Posner today to schedule a free consultation.