Renters in foreclosure a 'growing' problem

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FLORENCE - When Amber Olsen found a Florence home for rent on Craigslist, it seemed like a perfect fit for her family.

But about a month after moving in, she received a letter saying the home was in foreclosure and is set to be auctioned off in May.

“I freaked out,” she said. “I immediately called the property manager.”

Olsen says property manager Adam Black told her she'd have to fulfill her lease even if the home sold at auction.

Worried she'd have to find a new place to stay and come up with thousands of dollars to do it, she contacted 3 On Your Side for help.

“I thought that I was stable signing a lease here, and I'm not, I don't know what direction to take, I don't know what I'm going to do,” Olsen said.

Ken Volk says landlord foreclosure is a problem he's hearing more complaints about at his non-profit organization, Arizona Tenants Advocates.

“You've got landlords essentially taking rent monies, taking security deposit monies, running off with it, and in many cases they may even be declaring bankruptcy,” Volk explained.

But Adam Black with MBM Real Estate Solutions says he is not one of those landlords, and claims he wasn't even aware the home was in foreclosure when Olsen signed her lease in January.

Black says the homeowner is working with the bank to keep the home, and that there's very little chance Olsen will be forced to move even if it is auctioned off.

“Can you give us your guarantee that you're going to at least work with her?” our 3 On Your Side producer asked.

“Not only will I work with her, I have been working with her,” Black said. “Even though she's upset right now, and me and her aren't communicating right now, I'm still working on solving the problem.”

Olsen says she's relieved another move isn't eminent and says from now on, she'll do her homework before renting from Craigslist, or anywhere else.

“I want to get the word out there, I know this is a bad time and I know this is happening to a lot of people,” she said. “I think that if it continues to happen and you don't say anything about it these people think that they can still do it. I don't want it to happen to another person.”

Experts say renters should ask potential landlords for a current bank statement proving the mortgage payments are current.