St. Louis Public Radio News
6:26 am
Fri April 24, 2009

Advocates for renters push for changes to state law

Maria Altman highlights what happens when renters face foreclosure.

St. Louis, MO – In Missouri, homeowners get at least 20 days notice when banks decide to foreclose. Not so for renters.

When a landlord loses a property tenants often don't learn they have to move until a court summons arrives.

Legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly would help renters, but Maria Altman tells us that some groups say more notice is needed.

If a tenant is concerned that their landlord may default on his/her mortgage there are steps the tenant can take to find out.

Tenants can file a request for foreclosure notice with the Recorder of Deeds in their county. Generally they will have to pay a fee in order to get the notice by certified mail at least 20 days before a foreclosure sale.

The Recorder of Deeds also is the place to find out if the property already has been foreclosed on and has changed hands.

If the sale has already occurred, the new owner cannot lawfully turn the tenant out without a court order. Tenants will receive a court summons sometimes addressed to John Doe or Jane Doe.

The judge can order the tenant to vacate as soon as 10 days after the summons date. Tenants who need more time can go to court on the summons date to ask for more time.

The new owner may be willing to continue the lease agreement with the tenant or might offer "cash for keys." This is where the new owner pays a tenant in order to take possession of the property soon. Tenants should be certain to get a cash for keys agreement in writing.

(sources: Legal Services of Eastern Missouri/St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council)