MURPHY -- Brandy Runyan, a single mom of five, saved up for two years to move her family to the Metroplex from East Texas. She wanted to be closer to work and to give her kids more to experience in their lives.
She thought she'd found a dream home in Murphy last summer. But two weeks ago, it suddenly became a nightmare.
"We found that the house we'd been renting for almost a year now is actually set to auction on the courthouse steps on April 3," says Runyan, whose lease is supposed to run through July.
Runyan found this out when several letters were delivered at once to her door from the Collin County constable, addressed to her landlord, Mark Disanti of TFHSP, LLC. After doing some digging, she discovered the property had a lien put on it back in 2016, and now the bank was coming to collect.
"I had a real estate agent," says Runyan. "The property management company had a real estate agent. They put this deal together. I just don't know how this goes undetected."
Surprising as that seems, it is unfortunately not a rare occurrence, and there is little legal recourse for renters when it happens.
"The only way to protect yourself - and no one does this," says real estate attorney Rachel Khirallah, "is to run a title search before you rent a home that is owned by an individual or a company and make sure there's no judgments on them."
While you can do a title search yourself using public records, Khirallah says it's still a good idea to hire a real estate lawyer to review paperwork because they have different expertise than real estate agents.
The attorney representing Disanti and TFHSP, LLC claims Runyan has nothing to worry about, at least not for a while.
"This is a very convoluted situation with multiple parties and confusing actions taken by the Court in an earlier case," Ken Harter told NewsFix in an email. "The current resolution protects the lady for 90+ [sic] days and will provide for an orderly transition."
However, the foreclosure sale is still scheduled to take place on April 3 and she's still required to pay her monthly rent on April 1 despite the uncertainty. The best-case scenario for Runyan is if a new owner allows her to keep renting the home, but she needs to prepare for the worst of likely only having 30 days to vacate. She says her real estate agent has been scrambling to find a backup plan, but finding a large enough home that she can afford is proving difficult.
"We're not prepared for this," Runyan said. "We have nowhere to go. We saved two years to move here. I don't have two years to do that right now."
Runyan says it would be especially hard on her kids, ages 5 through 17, if they have to move to another school district and change schools this late in the year, only to potentially change again if they can't find a permanent home right away. But, the U.S. Navy veteran raised her family to be tough, and she's confident they'll find a way to adjust when the dust settles.
"We're been through a lot as a family, and we'll work through it," Runyan said."We don't have a choice."