Thursday, May 31, 2007

Tenants Suffering Fallout From Unwittingly Renting Homes In Foreclosures

It used to be that when a landlord rented to a tenant, it was the landlord who scrutinized the tenant's background to determine if the tenant was a good risk. Now, it seems that the tenant has to scrutinize the landlord (and probably even check the property title for recent activity - recent sales - ie. property flipping, existence of a lis pendens or notice of default indicating a possible foreclosure or government forfeiture action, but even that may not help) to determine if the landlord is a good risk (or is he/she merely skimming the equity in the house by pocketing the rent and security deposit without paying the mortgage).

The St. Petersburg Times is reporting a couple of stories of tenants who have unwittingly moved in and rented homes in the Tampa, Florida area, only to learn that the owner hasn't been making his mortgage payments and, consequently, found themselves as defendants in foreclosure actions.

One family, who moved from The Bronx into a Tampa-area home two months ago, were served with notice on May 19 that the bank seeks to foreclose because the owner is months behind in his mortgage payments.

For another couple, this scenario played out on two consecutive rentals. First, they rented a home from Victor Clavizzao, a loan officer (and reportedly, a felon) whose real estate transactions have been the subject of prior investigative reports in the St. Petersburg Times. When that home went into foreclosure, they moved into a home purportedly managed (and possibly owned) by Billy Womack, whose own real estate activities were the subject of a prior story in The Tampa Tribune. The Womack house had reportedly been recently flipped for more than double the previous price within a six month period, and the mortgage is also reportedly now in default.

For more, see Renters, too, face mortgage fallout (Unwary tenants find themselves caught in a widening web of fraud and foreclosure).

For story update, see Felon changes tune on mortgage fraud (8-23-08; In filings made public this week in U.S. District Court in Tampa, Clavizzao agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to fraudulently obtain nearly $6-million in mortgage loans on the Venetian Isle house and 12 other homes and condos in Pinellas County).

For other stories on tenants unknowingly renting homes in foreclosure, go here, or here, or here.

For more on Victor Clavizzao, see Multi-Flipped St. Pete Home Raises Suspicion.

For more on Billy Womack, Tampa-based Womack Property & Asset Management, and the 12 houses Womack's brother and sister-in-law got stuck holding the bag on (allegedly purchased on Womack's advice), see A Dozen Houses, A Dozen Headaches (The Tampa Tribune). alpha

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