I am a Tenant Living in a Foreclosed Property. What are My Rights?

If the place you are renting to live in has been foreclosed on, read this to learn your rights. #6122EN

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

No. If you rent your home in Washington State, and the property was sold at a non-judicial foreclosure sale (called a trustee's sale), state law protects you from having to move immediately. You can read that law at RCW 61.24.146(1).

Before starting an eviction action against you, the new owner must choose one of these options:

  • Give you 90 days' written notice to move (to vacate), if you are a bona fide tenant (see below); or

  • Offer you a new rental agreement or give you 60 days' written notice to vacate, if you are not a bona fide tenant; or

  • Let you stay in the home until the end of your lease term.

The federal Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) gives most "bona fide" renters the right to at least 90 days' written notice before having to move after a foreclosure. To be considered a "bona fide" tenant, all of these must be true:

  • You must not be the former owner's child, spouse, or parent.

  • Your rental agreement must not have been a special deal between friends or family.

  • The rental amount must be at fair market rent. If it is lower, it must be due to a government program that makes the rent affordable (that subsidizes the rent).

If you don't meet the definition of bona fide tenant above, and the new owner doesn't want to offer you a new rental agreement, the new owner must give you written notice giving you at least 60 days to move out.

It depends. If you are a bona fide tenant, and the new owner is not planning to move into the home, the new owner must let you stay until your lease ends. This is true for both written and verbal leases. If the new owner is planning to move into the home, you must get at least 90 days' notice before the new owner can evict you.

Example: you only have a month left on your lease. In this situation, you must get at least 90 days' notice. The 90 days do not start after your lease term ends.

The new owner must still give you at least 60 days' notice, or 90 days' notice if you are a bona fide tenant, before evicting you.

You have additional protection. You get to keep your Section 8 lease and the new owner must also honor the Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contract that is part of your Section 8 tenancy.

The new owner cannot charge you additional rent or other payments and can only use the foreclosure sale as the "other good cause" clause of your HAP contract to end your lease if the new owner plans to move in themselves.  In that case, you must get at least 90 days' notice.

No. There are special rules for the owner of foreclosed property. See "Does this law also protect former homeowners?" below. You have the right to 60 or 90 days if you are a tenant living in a home that has been foreclosed on.

Probably. In Seattle, a landlord can only evict a tenant for the reasons listed in the Ordinance. Buying property at a trustee's sale is not one of those reasons. If you are a tenant living in Seattle and your property is in foreclosure, get immediate legal advice. See contact info below.

No. These protections are only for tenants, and not the owner who lost the home in foreclosure or an occupant who is not a tenant. These protections do not apply even where the former owner remains on the property as a tenant, subtenant, or occupant. You can read the state law about this at RCW 61.24.146(3).

A former owner must move 20 days after the trustee's sale or face eviction. The former owner is not entitled to a 20-day notice to vacate before the new owner files an eviction court case.

No matter what that notice says, you have an absolute right to 60 days' notice, or 90 days' notice if you are a bona fide tenant. If you want to stay in your home for the full 60 or 90 days, let the new owner know in writing that you have this right and you plan to exercise it.

No. It is up to them, not you. But you can always ask the new owner for a new rental agreement if it is in your best interest to do so.

What if I got a notice saying I need to send documents to a law firm to qualify for the federal PTFA protections?

If you are a bona fide tenant, you are entitled to 90 days' notice or to stay until your lease term ends (whichever time is longer) even if you do not send the requested documents to that law firm. You should notify the law firm that you are a bona fide tenant under the PTFA, so they know you are entitled to additional time in the home.     

You must pay rent and honor your other duties under the rental agreement you had before the foreclosure.

Maybe. Federal law assumes that your obligation to pay rent continues during the 90 days. But the new owner may decide to never ask for or collect the rent. 

The rent issue is complicated. If the new owner asks you for rent and you want to stay for the 90-day period, you should keep paying rent to avoid eviction. If the new owner seeks to evict you for non-payment of rent, they still must give you a 90-day notice.

If you are not a bona fide tenant, and you get a 60-day notice to vacate, the new owner can only evict you if you commit waste or nuisance. Read My landlord just gave me a 3-Day Notice to Quit to learn more. You cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent.

If you get a notice to vacate and you choose not to pay rent during the notice period, but you do not move at the end of the 60 or 90 days, the new owner can start an eviction lawsuit against through the "unlawful detainer" process. If this is your situation, get legal advice right away. See contact info below.

Even if the new owner has not told you where to send the rent, they still have a right to collect it. If no one has given you payment information for the new owner, save your rent money until you do get that information. You may want to save your rent money separately from where you usually save your money. 

Be careful. Scammers review publicly available foreclosure information and may contact tenants living in foreclosed properties and demand rent.

Before you pay rent to this person, ask them for a copy of their Trustee's Deed as proof of ownership. You can also ask the County Auditor for the name listed as the property's legal owner to make sure the Trustee's Deed is real. A local title insurance company may also be able to give you this information.

If your old landlord did not refund your deposit or transfer it to the new owner after the trustee's sale, you can sue the old landlord in small claims court to get your deposit back. Your old landlord is liable to you for up to twice the amount of your deposit, plus attorneys' fees.

You can watch Northwest Justice Project (NJP)'s video called Where is My Security Deposit and read Can I Get My Security Deposit Back to learn more.

*Even if your old landlord has wrongfully kept your deposit, you may still have to pay the new owner a new deposit if you enter into a written rental agreement with the new owner.   


I paid rent to my old landlord through a property management company. If I keep paying them, will they send the new owner the rent?

No. The property management company had a contract with your old landlord. The foreclosure ended that contract.

It is possible that the new owner entered into a contract with your old property manager to continue managing your home. Verify this in writing before paying your old property manager the rent after foreclosure.  Remember to get a receipt for any rent payment you make.

After the trustee's sale, problems with maintenance, repair, or utility service (if the utilities were your landlord's responsibility) are the new owner's responsibility. Read Tenants: What to do if Your Unit Needs Repairs to learn more.

You may be able to keep your utilities on by contacting the utility company and putting the utilities in your name to avoid shut-off, even if the utilities are in your old landlord's name.  They will likely require proof of your living at the property. (For example, a rental agreement or mail sent to that address.) 

If the new owner refuses to follow the law, get legal help. See contact info below.

It is your choice. Be aware of your right to 60 or 90 days in the home before eviction.

Example 1: A new owner tells you that you can either take the cash and leave now or be evicted with less than 60 or 90 days' notice. This is untrue.

Example 2: A new owner offers to pay you cash that will help you and your family relocate, but you must agree to move out in 2 weeks. This may be in your best interest. You can also try to bargain for more time and/or cash to move.

Before signing any agreement, you should have an attorney review the agreement to make sure you understand your rights. See contact info below.

*The new owner will not make this cash payment, often called "cash-for-keys," to you upfront. You will get it after you move out and following an inspection of the place. You may want to consider the timing of the payment when deciding if you should accept a cash-for-keys offer. You may ask for some money upfront for the costs to move somewhere else and the rest when you move out.


If the new owner wants to do these things, the new owner must first go through the eviction process and get a court order giving the new owner the right to force you out of the property. The sheriff must enforce the order and conduct the eviction. Call the sheriff for help if the new owner changes your locks or removes your things. See contact info below for legal help.

Maybe. Some agencies in Washington may offer relocation assistance. Call 2.1.1 or go to win211.org to learn more.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help. 

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Last Review and Update: Jul 19, 2023
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