From the Office of the California Attorney General
- Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr.  launched an investigation aimed at protecting the rights of the "forgotten victims" of the housing market collapse -- the tens of thousands of tenants facing eviction from buildings that have been foreclosed by banks.
- "Tenants who live in properties in foreclosure are the forgotten victims of the collapse of the housing market," Brown said. "We'll fight every step of the way to ensure they aren't rousted from their homes in violation of the law." As a part of his investigation, Brown  sent letters to 24 banks, loan servicers, private investors, and law firms demanding information about whether they are complying with federal, state, and local laws regarding foreclosed properties and their treatment of tenants.
- More than 20 housing rights and public interest groups from across California have petitioned the Attorney General to take action, citing a "pattern of illegal conduct" and tenant harassment by banks, real estate agents and lawyers attempting to speed up evictions so that foreclosed properties can be sold.
- In his letter, Brown requires banks, loan servicers, private investors and law firms to provide information by July 19 about their policies and procedures when dealing with foreclosed properties and current tenants. It specifically asks the recipients to outline how they "promote or preserve tenancies after foreclosure".
- In May 2009, the federal government enacted the "Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act" giving tenants new protections, such as the right to stay in their homes for at least 90 days after receiving an eviction notice. While state and local laws also contain strong protections, unlawful evictions and harassment of tenants continue.(1)
For the California AG press release, and the text of his letter to the 24 alleged evil-doers, see Brown Investigates Whether Tenants' Rights Are Violated in Foreclosures.
For more on foreclosures and the rights of tenants, see National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty: Staying Home: The Rights of Renters Living in Foreclosed Properties.
(1) According to the California AG, the rights of tenants in foreclosed homes and apartments include:
- Tenants cannot be required to move out of their homes for at least 90 days following an eviction notice.
- Tenants can insist on staying until the end of their leases. The only exception occurs when the new owner of a single-family home wants to move in.
- Tenants can require banks and their agents to put all communication in writing.
- Tenants are not obliged to accept "cash for keys" money to move out sooner than the law prescribes.
- Harassment, such as improper entry into a person's home, shutting off water and lights, or changing the locks without a court order is illegal.
- The above rights extend to tenants living in government-subsidized Section 8 housing, who may also have additional protections under state and local laws.
In addition, the state Attorney General points out that if a California city has a "just cause for eviction" law, a landlord must have a specific reason to evict a tenant, and foreclosure may not be recognized as a legitimate basis for eviction. Tenants should check local ordinances.
According to the California Attorney General's office, sixteen cities in California have just cause for eviction ordinances: Berkeley, Beverly Hills, East Palo Alto, Glendale, Hayward, Los Angeles, Maywood, Oakland, Palm Springs, Richmond, Ridgecrest, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Thousand Oaks, and West Hollywood.