The number of foreclosures continues to rise in Massachusetts, and the troubling tide is affecting not only homeowners, but renters as well.
There were 1,334 foreclosure deeds in April, a higher number than ever previously recorded in any single month, and the number of deeds through the first four months of 2008 outpaced those in the same period of 2005 by nearly 1,200 percent, according to The Warren Group, a Boston-based publisher of local real estate data and the Banker & Tradesman newspaper.
“The Massachusetts foreclosure mess is just not getting better,” said Warren Group CEO Timothy Warren Jr. in a late May statement accompanying the release of the new data. “Thousands of homeowners are entering the foreclosure process every month, and about one-third of them are losing their homes. It’s staggering to see how the numbers have exploded in the past three years.”
Some housing advocates argue that the explosion has unfairly victimized tenants, many of whom don’t know what rights they have when the buildings that they live in go into foreclosure.
In an effort to help tenants navigate the frightening uncertainty that can surround a building foreclosure, two Harvard Law School professors have compiled a comprehensive and easy-to-use guide on what to do if they find themselves in that unfortunate situation.
The guide, entitled “Tenants Facing Foreclosure,” is available for free online at MassLegalHelp (www.masslegalhelp.org/housing/foreclosures), a Web site created by the Bay State’s civil legal aid community. It will also be included as a chapter in an upcoming edition of “Legal Tactics,” a publication of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, slated for release in the early fall.
“There is a high percentage of multi-family foreclosures in Suffolk County,” said Rafael Mares, one of the report’s authors. “The new ‘Legal Tactics’ chapter describes the problems in layman’s terms. The chapter also has endnotes that cite real cases and statutes to allow lawyers and social service providers to better help their clients.”
Mares and co-author Esme Caramello are experts in housing law at the Harvard Law School’s WilmerHale Legal Services Center in Jamaica Plain, where they work with(p2)
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