Letter in support of the Permanently Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act

The following letter was sent on May 23, 2014 to the Illinois members of U.S. House of Representatives in support of H.R. 3543, the Permanently Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. A similar letter was sent to Senators Durbin and Kirk regarding a similar bill in the Senate (S.1761).

Dear Representative:

We, the undersigned, members of a coalition of policy, advocacy, and tenant rights organizations, are writing in strong support of H.R. 3543, the Permanently Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. We urge you to co-sponsor this critical legislation and expedite its quick enactment into law.

Although foreclosure is commonly thought of as a homeowner issue, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, approximately 40% of families affected by foreclosure rent their homes. Furthermore, according to the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), in Chicago alone, about 70,000 apartment building units have been impacted by foreclosure since 2009, or over 10% of Chicago’s entire rental housing stock. Prior to the May 2009 enactment of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA), tenants living in foreclosed buildings could be evicted from their homes with as little as a few days notice. LCBH, along with members of Keep Chicago Renting Coalition, documented egregious abuses of tenants’ rights (please see the attached report summary; view LCBH’s annual foreclosure reports here: http://lcbh.org/news/reports), and because of such activities, began a local initiative to stabilize tenancies post foreclosure, culminating in Chicago’s recently passed Protecting Tenants in Foreclosed Rental Property Ordinance (commonly referred to as the KCRO). Thanks to the PTFA and the KCRO, bona fide tenants now have protections against immediate eviction, which had, in the past, resulted in housing instability and homelessness for countless citizens. However, unless Congress takes action, the PTFA will expire on December 31, 2014. Given the ongoing nature of the foreclosure crisis, the undersigned organizations strongly urge that the PTFA be made permanent to ensure that renters continue to be protected, no matter where they live within the United States.

Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) has introduced legislation, the Permanently Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (H.R. 3543) that would make the PTFA a permanent law. H.R. 3543 would address the ongoing impact of the foreclosure crisis on renters by removing the sunset date, ensuring that renters have a basic level of federal protections irrespective of when their residence is foreclosed on. The legislation would also add a private right of action for tenants whose rights under the PTFA have been violated. It is vital that this enforcement mechanism be added to better ensure compliance with the law, as the undersigned organizations have documented rampant violations of tenants’ rights when rental properties are foreclosed upon (please see LCBH’s report, Banks Avoid Foreclosure Laws, Uproot Renters: A Call for Enforcement of Tenant Protections, documenting these abuses: http://lcbh.org/reports/foreclosure/2012).

We urge you to co-sponsor this critical legislation that will greatly help many of your constituents, and help ensure neighborhood stability during the ongoing foreclosure crisis. For more information, please contact Mark Swartz, Legal Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing.

We sincerely thank you for your consideration of our views on H.R. 3543, and hope that you will co-sponsor this greatly needed legislation.

Sincerely,

Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing
Albany Park Neighborhood Association
Action Now
Anti-Eviction Campaign
SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana