The media has reported exhaustively on the nationwide rash of foreclosures as it affects homeowners. But what happens when the building being foreclosed is occupied by multiple tenants?

Fordham Law’s Feerick Center for Social Justice helped organize a series of educational programs to inform tenants of their rights when their building goes into foreclosure. Workshops were held in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island.

“This project targeted frontline personnel at community-based organizations and in the faith community, as well as those working in the local offices of elected officials,” said Dora Galacatos, Senior Counsel to the Feerick Center. “These individuals very frequently are the first to get requests for assistance from tenants.”

At each program location, a panel of landlord-tenant and foreclosure specialists addressed the scope of the problem of foreclosures for tenants, provided an overview of the foreclosure process and the legal rights of tenants, and reviewed options for affected tenants. In addition, project participants distributed fact sheets with additional information about tenants and foreclosures. Specific issues raised included payment of rent during a foreclosure, what to do if utilities are shut off, and the effect of foreclosure on a tenant’s credit history.

The workshops are part of the Feerick Center’s Tenants and Foreclosures Education Project in collaboration with the Justice Center of the New York County Lawyers’ Association (NYCLA). A planning committee for the project that convened in March included members from the Center for New York City Neighborhoods; the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy at NYU; Housing Court Answers, a service of the City-Wide Task Force on Housing Court; the Legal Aid Society; and Legal Services NYC.