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AARP Urges Court to Honor Renters' Rights in Foreclosure

AARP’s brief asks a California court to enforce the federal statute protecting renters when their landlords are foreclosed.


A California Court of Appeal is considering a lawsuit that addresses renters’ rights when their landlord ends up in foreclosure. Nativi v. Deutsche Bank hinges on an interpretation of federal law — the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) — that plaintiffs argue protects a tenant’s rights to residency when a landlord is foreclosed upon.

AARP Foundation Litigation attorneys filed AARP’s friend-of-the-court brief with five other organizations that advocate for tenants’ rights. The brief points out that under the PTFA bona fide leases survive foreclosure and the trial court erred in holding that the foreclosure procedure cancelled the tenants’ leases. The brief further points out that prior to the PTFA, renters in properties at foreclosure frequently found themselves at risk of homelessness or struggling with poor living conditions, often with few state or local laws to protect them. For renters (particularly lower income renters), eviction can leave residents with few affordable options — and in some housing markets, few actual options. The brief notes that Congress passed the PTFA in order to stop this “rampage of sudden evictions of renters” caused by foreclosure and to “help unsuspecting renters from falling victims to foreclosure in which they played absolutely no part.”

What’s at Stake

An estimated 40 percent of families displaced from their homes because of foreclosure are renters. Losing one’s home is particularly devastating on older people, who are frequently on fixed incomes. Older residents also have a harder time adjusting to unexpected housing or other living costs because, statistically, they face higher health care and drug costs and often live on fixed incomes.

Case Status

Nativi v. Deutsche Bank is before the California Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.