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3 in 10 caught in foreclosures are renters

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POSTED February 24, 2010 2:16 a.m.
Angie and Alfie Galan have lived in their Manteca home since May.

As tenants, they stayed on top of their monthly rent payment for the two-story, four-bedroom house located near Woodward School.

They were happy to be back in town. In 1989, the Galans relocated to Manteca from the Bay Area. But, in the last 20 years, they also moved to Modesto, Reno, back to Modesto, and then Manteca again about two years ago.

“We moved around a lot over the years,” Alfie Galan said on Tuesday.

But Manteca was the place of choice for the Galans.

They had friends here and their three children eventually found the town to their liking. The eldest, for example, found a home at Manteca High while the two others settled in at the nearby Manteca Unified elementary site.

All was well, according to Angie Galan. Or so she thought.

Much to her dismay, she discovered last month that her out-of-state owners were in the process of being foreclosed on. That came after receiving some assurances.

“We specifically asked the question in regards to them being okay with their mortgage company and we were told all was good and there was no need to worry,” Angie Galan said last week.

The Galans, however, had reason to worry.

They had been through the other side of the foreclosure process.

They also heard the worst-case scenarios of people being evicted and thrown out on the streets.

They discovered by accident that the owners might be foreclosing on the property, with representatives claiming to be from the bank taking photos of their home.

The Galans were later stunned to receive the foreclosure notice posted in front of their home.

“We had no control over the situation,” Alfie Galan said.

In recent years, more and more renters are faced with the dilemma of losing their home due to foreclosure. According to a 2009 national statistic, 30 percent of all foreclosures involved non-owners occupying the property.
The Galans have current laws including the “Helping Families Save Their Home Act” signed May 20, 2009 by President Obama on their side. As tenants, they can’t be evicted unless a new owner comes in with the intent of occupying the home. Still, this owner would be required to provide folks like the Galans, in this case, with a 90-day notice period.

Despite the foreclosure process, they’ve continued to receive notice from their landlord to continue paying the rent.

The Galans, however, may no longer be obligated to pay since the seller of record stopped making payments on the house, according to a local Realtor. Instead, they’re saving the money earmarked for rent to go towards another home.

“We’re hoping it’s somewhere in this area,” Alfie Galan said.

For now, his family is planning to stand pat and wait for the foreclosure process to play out.

Carol Bragan of Bragan Realty said situation similar to that of the Galans are often settled via Cash for Keys program used these days by many lenders and banks.

Such programs were put into place to minimize the need for some people to vandalize a home during an eviction.

“It’s also a tactful way for a renter to walk away before the situation gets ugly,” Bragan said.

The Galans would more than welcome being financially reimbursed this way for their troubles, with the money possibly being used to improve their situation.

“It might mean downsizing (into another home),” Alfie Galan said.

He’s optimistic that his family will bounce back from this situation.

“We’re like cats – we always land on our feet,” said Galan.
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