Foreclosure's Forgotten Victims: Tenants
By Matt Sledge
MIAMI -- Sergio Palacios doesn't have the typical South Florida foreclosure story.
He doesn't live in a McMansion in some suburban subdivision. He wasn't tricked into a mortgage he couldn't afford. In fact, he doesn't own a home at all. He's a tenant. But for the last five months and counting, Palacios, an unemployed construction worker, has lived in his Liberty City apartment without running water.
Deutsche Bank filed a foreclosure suit against the property's owners in April. As Palacios and his roommate suffered through illness and joblessness, they have slipped out to friends' houses to drink and bathe when they could, and did without when they couldn't.
On Tuesday, in a hearing that lasted less than nine minutes, Florida 11th Judicial Circuit Judge Gladys Perez ordered his water turned back on.
"Why are we here if we know the tenants are there?" she asked, a hint of irritation in her voice. Florida law prohibits landlords from simply cutting off utilities, a point which a lawyer for the apartment's owners, Joseph Dolsan and Jean Mervoir, did not dispute.
"Let's do it," Perez continued, "let's get the water back on."
Palacios's saga won't end there. Dolsan and Mervoir have vowed to evict him. But his hearing on Tuesday illustrates one of the hidden undercurrents of the foreclosure crisis: tenants, many who have little or no income, caught in the middle of battles between banks and property owners.
Read the full story on HuffPost Miami
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