Ask Donna Dodson how she's doing.
"Stressed" is her reply.
The house where she lives on Piper Road is moving toward foreclosure. She was served with the official papers in April.
Trouble is, the house doesn't belong to her.
Court records show the house went into foreclosure in March, but process servers have not successfully located the property owner, William Tsompanidis.
That's given Dodson, her husband and two grown children a little more time in the house, but her eviction is all but inevitable.
"He's drained my pocketbook. I don't know what else to do," Dodson said.
A message left for Tsompanidis, who has another Spring Hill property in foreclosure proceedings, was not returned.
Foreclosure is not an immediate process and often takes longer than six months to finalize. Renters will inevitably be out of a home at the end, but there are measures they can take to buy more time.
Attorney Karl Klein was asked so frequently about the foreclosure process that he posted a few guidelines online to explain how it works.
Basically, foreclosure is a lawsuit filed by a bank when the property owner stops paying the mortgage. After about six months, there is an auction and, if no one bids higher, the bank automatically gets the property. One of the first things the bank does is get a deputy to clear the property and change the locks.
Here's how it works:
Phase 1 extends from the period of the filing for foreclosure to the 30 days before auction. This lasts between three and five months. If possible, have a "heart-to-heart" conversation with your landlord early in the process about the likelihood of recovering deposits.
"Find out what we can agree to," Klein said. "That's the No. 1 thing."
A month before the auction, tenants can file a motion to delay auction. A judge has to approve it, so be prepared with a good reason. Common grounds for a stay are: No knowledge of foreclosure proceedings up until this point, a family/work emergency, no money saved to rent a new place to live, recent health issues.
In Phase 3, between the auction and eviction, a sheriff's deputy will come to the property and post an eviction notice. This means the tenant has between 48 and 72 hours to leave. There are two options to stall this as well: a motion to extend sheriff's execution, which is usually good for at least 30 days.
The other option is to call the "REO Agent," the real estate owner, usually the bank, and offer "cash for keys." Just as it sounds, you can ask for compensation for having to leave before the end of your lease. This can bring in between $250 and $2,500, depending on circumstances such as property value and the resources of the REO Agent.
Throughout the process, it's important for tenants to remember that they have to pay rent.
For now, Dodson, a part-time seamstress, will continue to consult with Legal Aid for advice in guiding her through these tough times.