Local

Condominium Foreclosure, Uncertain Future for Renters

Monday, July 13, 2009

Renters, living in a Northwest Fresno condo complex, fear they may be evicted because the owner defaulted on a loan.

Nearly half of the units at Tuscany Villas at Herndon and Fruit are under threat of being foreclosed.

53 units here are listed as facing foreclosure. Most of the tenants are renters. We searched county records and found this notice which indicates the Tuscany Villas will be sold at auction next week. But the property managers say renters will not face eviction.

Kevin Duarte's worst fear was confirmed when he saw a notice of a trustee sale. It listed his unit as being foreclosed.

Duarte said, "With school coming up and money being tight, I don't have the security deposit always just sitting around or money just sitting around ... waiting for a bank to pay me back. I need every dollar right now to pay my rent."

Tuscany Villas is billed as a resort style complex. But according to county records, the owners defaulted on a loan and owe nearly five million dollars.

Monday afternoon ... we found the sales office locked and closed. Chris Stone was named as a contact. We spoke to him over the phone. Stone said the owners and bank are entangled in a lawsuit over the loan's handling.

Earlier this month a Fresno County Judge signed an order, halting the foreclosure process for 60 days. Stone said tenants have unfortunately found themselves caught in a legal battle over money.

"For a tenant, it really does not make much difference. If the bank were to win, which is not an easy task, then the tenant would pay the rent to the bank," said Stone.

Stone hopes the problems will be resolved before the property faces auction. Renter Rod Rothgarn said the managers have not been keeping them updated.

"You'd like to think the people who are investing in this type of stuff are stable, but this day and age, there's no one that is stable," said Rothgarn.

The broker for the property admitted he wasn't keeping residents informed. He hopes to circulate information about the foreclosure to residents. Tenants do have rights in this situation. A new owner must serve a written notice telling tenants to move out. Renters have 90-days to leave. And in most cases, a lease offers protection from eviction.

If things don't work out here, some tenants are making backup plans.

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