More than one million California renters have been hit hard by the foreclosure epidemic since the mortgage crisis began in 2007, a new study by Tenants Together revealed.
Apartment building foreclosures keep rising, even as single-family home foreclosures have slowed down, the report released in July showed.
Last year, residential foreclosures impacted some 175,000 California renters.
Tenants Together blames banks and investors for "their inhumane and irrational eviction policies and poor maintenance" of foreclosure properties adversely affecting tenants and their communities.
"Anti-eviction laws and aggressive enforcement efforts are needed to protect tenants from further abuse," said Leah Simon-Weisberg, Legal Director of Tenants Together and principal report author.
The report notes that "just cause for eviction" laws are an especially "effective and cost-free way to stop the unfair displacement of innocent renters after foreclosure and provide stability to the community at large."
Other key recommendations include:
Expand outreach and education efforts to acquaint tenants of their rights.
Step up enforcement efforts to hold banks and other violators of tenant-protection laws accountable.
Make the federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act permanent, expressly provide a private right of action for tenants whose rights are violated and strengthen similar state law protections.
In the first major government enforcement proceeding, Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich initiated action against Deutsche Bank for violating tenants rights after foreclosure.
The Merced City Council passed the first Just Cause for Eviction law in the Central Valley, the state's agricultural center, to stop arbitrary tenant evictions after foreclosure, in response to tenants and Occupy Merced joining in a mobilization to City Hall.
In another initiative also in the Central Valley, Fresno County Assessor-Recorder Paul Dictos announced a campaign to inform tenants and homeowners in pre-foreclosure properties of their rights.
The tenants' rights movement is also resorting to the legislative struggle as several tenant protection bills await state legislative action.
Tenants Together has counseled more than 6,000 tenants across the state. Tenants can reach the Tenant Foreclosure Hotline toll-free at 1-888-495-8020 or submit an online intake form at www.tenantstogether.org/hotlineintake to get a call back from a counselor.