Better Call Behnken: Landlord loses home to foreclosure, couple finds out before Christmas

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Marc and Deborah Torres have lived in a rental unit for six years.  Last week, they were told to be out of their home no later than two days after Christmas, because their landlord lost the place to foreclosure.

“I just think that it’s not fair that you have to come in here like the Grinch and not only ruin Christmas, but pretty much change our whole life,” Marc Torres said.

Deborah Torres has been battling cancer and was excited for the holidays.

The couple explained the realtor told them they would get $2,000 if they just left, or they could wait, eventually get kicked out anyway, and get no money to help them move.

“He just kept saying that at any time the sheriff could put a notice on my door and I would have to be out in 24 hours,” Marc said.

So hours before the paperwork arrived, the couple called Better Call Behnken to help navigate them through the process.

Lucky for Marc and Deborah, we just happen to have foreclosure attorneys on speed dial.

What we found was helpful, but not great news. In 2009, a federal law passed that gave tenants like these at least 90 days to move.

But, that law expired in 2014, and now tenants have only 30 days to move once they have been notified in writing.

Marc and Deborah Torres tell me they were not notified in writing, or told they could move 30 days after a written notice.

That left them with a tough choice: Take the money and leave, even though this comes at a terrible time, or fight and get nothing at all.

They ended up deciding to take the cash, especially after they pushed for more time and the realtor’s office came back with a better offer from the bank: $2,500. Plus, they now have until Jan. 14 to move.

The couple said they had planned to buy their own home anyway and took money out of Marc’s retirement account to pay for it.

“Maybe this happened for a reason,” Marc Torres said. “I know it will work out for the best, but it’s sad it had to happen this way, with such little time to prepare.”

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