Scottsdale, Arizona (PRWEB) March 15, 2009
The American Tenants Association (ATA)(http://www.americantenants.org), the country's only nationwide, grassroots residential renters advocacy group, offered solutions today to the growing problem of landlord foreclosures and disruptions in tenants' basic maintenance and utility services.
Throughout the United States thousands of tenants are facing eviction and loss of basic services such as trash pick-up, water turn-offs and deferred maintenance because landlords have not been paying their bills.
"Even though our member tenants are making timely rent payments, some landlords have not been fulfilling their part of the bargain. Through mismanagement or outright fraud, they have diverted tenant funds to other uses and have left residential renters literally out in the cold," the ATA's Executive Director William M. Deegan said. "Required maintenance is also being deferred which threatens the health and safety of our member tenants," Mr. Deegan added.
Because of this situation, the ATA said it would be calling on state legislatures to initiate actions to protect residential renters from irresponsible landlords.
The ATA's proposals call for disclosure by the landlord that they are current on all obligations effecting tenant well being. This would include disclosures of the landlord's credit status if the landlord is an individual and if requested by the landlord of the tenant. If the landlord is a corporate entity or an individual the landlord would be required to certify, in writing, that they are current on their underlying mortgage and basic services.
The group is also calling for a change in the legal status of all landlords to that of a fiduciary or trustee of tenant funds.
The ATA's proposal calls for the establishment of legally restricted escrow accounts to hold that portion of the rent check designated to pay the mortgage, utilities, capital improvements and general maintenance. In this way, there will be reasonable assurance that the bills will be paid. In addition, the group is calling for civil and criminal sanctions if landlords fail to comply with their fiduciary responsibilities.
In situations where the landlord falls behind in any of these categories, the tenant shall have the right to immediate notice and legal standing to cause the landlord to comply with the state mandated regulations and terms of the lease.
The national advocacy group will also push for legislation requiring that individuals or corporations that acquire residential properties through foreclosure honor pre-existing tenant leases for a period not less than ninety days or through the term of the original lease, whichever is greater, in order for tenants to have sufficient opportunity to make alternative living arrangements. "Too frequently, tenants do not have enough time to find a suitable place to live," Mr. Deegan noted.
Stan Dale, the ATA's Director of Public Policy, said that in the weeks ahead, the group would be reaching out to legislatures throughout the United States to strengthen the laws and regulations designed to protect tenants or to propose new ones.
The ATA was created to fill the void that existed in protecting tenants' rights. "Although there are many fine local and state groups advocating on behalf of tenants, the ATA's sole objective is to focus that advocacy on the national level," Mr. Dale said.
"Unfortunately, many of our country's landlords are proving themselves to be irresponsible financial stewards. The ATA's proposals will help landlords clean up their act and provide tenants the financial, health and safety protections they demand," Mr. Deegan concluded.
The American Tenants Association serves as the voice for the more than 95 million residential renters in the United States. Membership is free to all tenants and advocates of tenants' rights. Its web address is http://www.americantenants.org.