Valley renters caught in foreclosure flap

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MESA -- A growing number of renters are being kicked out of their homes and not because of bad behavior.

In fact, most of them have done nothing wrong.

Well, it looks like renters are now being taken advantage of by the homeowners. This problem has spread like wildfire ever since the foreclosure crisis hit us.

This is how it all works. Homeowners realize they're about to lose their home to foreclosure. So what do they do? They simply rent out their home, but instead of paying their mortgage with the rent money, the homeowner keeps it all.

Katherine Cirrincione loves the Mesa home she is renting. Back in March, she signed a rental agreement and planned on being in the house for a year.

"It's a beautiful home and it was well-maintained," Cirrincione said. "I was just happy to get this home."

Before moving in, Cirrincione handed over a lot of money. The homeowner wanted first and last month's rent up front. That was $2,200.

Cirrincione then handed over two more checks for a security deposit.

Then, after being in the home for one month, she paid her $1,100 rent and the second month she paid another $1,100.

Still, after paying all that money, Cirrincione is being forced to move because she just realized the home she is renting is going through foreclosure.

"I just don't know what to do," Cirrincione said.

Foreclosure? Wait a minute. Cirrincione has paid all of her rent month after month and that homeowner was supposed to be paying the mortgage. Well, apparently, that mortgage was not being paid at all.

"Yes, definitely, it's very prevalent in the Valley right now," Chris Combs said.

Combs is an attorney and real estate specialist. He says there are thousands of renters finding themselves in Cirrincione's situation.

The reason? Greedy homeowners who know they're losing their home.

"They're going down in flames and they want to get as much as they can before it's over," Combs said.

Although Cirrincione has paid all that money to the homeowner, the house is now being auctioned off, meaning Cirrincione will have to move despite the fact she just recently moved in.

"Once it's sold, the owner can put locks on the house and kick me out and keep all the contents inside because they bought the house as is," Cirrincione said.

In the past, homeowners have always researched renters before allowing them to move in. They would check references or may pull their credit history.

But now, renters are having to scrutinize homeowners by confirming the house is not going through a foreclosure.

All foreclosures are filed with the county. Your best bet is to check with the county recorder's office.