GREENSBORO, N.C. — After vacationing in Myrtle Beach, Brooke Thomas came home with her husband and two young children to find a padlock on their door.
“We just wanted to go in the house. My heart dropped. My heart was really broken,” Thomas said.
The bank foreclosed on the home they were renting. When deputies posted a warning on the home before their vacation, Thomas’ landlord told her it wasn’t her problem.
“At least if the home goes into foreclosure you don’t have to keep paying me rent. And that was his explanation. That’s what he said to us and that’s the last time we spoke to him,” she said.
Law enforcement let the family inside the home to get their essentials. A week later, officials let the family inside the home to move out their belongings.
The family is now living with a family member until they find another home.
“It just makes you afraid to go and try to lease somewhere else because it`s like, what if this happens again? We have had no protections, we have no rights,” Thomas said.
Audrey Berlowitz is trying to bring more protections to renters with the Greensboro Tenant Organization. The North Carolina Attorney General’s office and the Greensboro Housing Coalition believe it could be the first one in the state.
Berlowitz wants the group to address issues like enforcing minimum housing standards and landlords who unfairly withhold security deposits. She also wants to educate renters about their rights.
“Landlords have been organized so well for so many years,” Berlowitz said. “Obviously in a democracy, you have to have all the people on all sides organized. Otherwise, there will be an imbalance of power and that`s what it is. We basically have to be more proactive and a lot of times there`s power in numbers.”
Click for more information about the Greensboro Tenant Organization.