Suspected foreclosure, cannot contact landlord

By Cara Ann

I live in an apartment in NJ with my fiance. We have recently become suspicious that the apartment we rent from a private owner (our building has mostly owned apartments, only 3 renters) is going into foreclosure. We started receiving some mail for her even though her address has been changed for some time; it was all lawyer solicitation, offering counsel for foreclosures (we accidentally opened one and panicked, and have been opening the rest. I am aware of the ramifications, read on). This past week, we came home to a note on the front of the apartment addressed to her from Wells Fargo Mortgage Company, stating an inspector visited the property for the bank and to please call the Loan Administration. I called the mortgage company, thinking that perhaps since foreclosures become puclic record, I would be able to find out. The representative couldn’t tell me anything as it’s still confidential and we’re not on the mortgage; she also stated that our landlord could be refinancing. We normally have no trouble getting a hold of her, and all of sudden she’s stopped returning our phonecalls, so I doubt it’s a refinance, especially since she normally lets us know if anyone needs to get in the apartment (repairman and such) and this inspector came with no warning.

I strongly suspect this woman rented us this apartment knowing that she couldn’t pay the mortgage anymore and has simply been pocketing our rent for almost a year, but I have no way to prove it. This is possibly the worst timing in the world for my fiance and I (we do not want to move this year and really like our apartment). I have a few questions:

-Despite our best efforts, we cannot get a hold of our landlord. She doesn’t return calls, texts, or emails, and we have no other way to find out the truth. What is the policy in NJ when you can’t contact your landlord? I’m angry at this point and am this close to withholding our rent until she calls us back, but if this becomes an incident where we have to get lawyers involved. I don’t want us to look like we are in the wrong.

-If the apartment is in foreclosure, when would we have to move? I’ve read that we are legally allowed to remain until the lease is up, I’ve read 90 days from when the bank takes over, and I’ve read ASAP from when a new owner buys the place.

-If our rent is not going towards the mortgage, I’m wondering where our deposit is. By law it should be in an account accruing interest, but this is seeming more and more unlikely. Do we have the right to say "please take our deposit and apply it towards our last month’s rent?"

-Is there any possible scenario, short of buying the place ourselves, where we can stay in this apartment another year if there is, indeed, foreclosure? I’m aware this is a longshot, but I’ve switched jobs this year and am working more hours, my fiance did the same, plus our wedding is this November and we’re paying for the whole thing ourselves. We don’t have the time, money, or energy to move again.

Thank you!

Edited on: Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 3:44 pm

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