McKINNEY -- It was not the ending Brandy Runyan was hoping for, and now she knows for sure that she and her family must find a new beginning.
Last week Runyan, a U.S. Navy veteran and single mom of five who works three jobs and saved for two years to move into the Metroplex and rent a dream home in Murphy, was shocked to learn in mid-March the home had been foreclosed on and would be sold at an auction despite having more than four months left on her lease.
The attorney for her landlord assured her the lease would be honored, but after the sale took place Tuesday morning at Collin County Courthouse, Runyan was told that's not true, and she has as little as two weeks to vacate.
"I have a couple agents looking around but it's still very hard," said a tearful Runyan. "You still have to qualify, and you still have to have the money, and the deposits."
That's the hard part after dropping $11,000 in deposits just last summer to get into her current home. She will likely sue to get at least some of that money back, however it might take up to two years to get a court date so it can't help her right now.
But, the bigger problem is simply finding a big enough home that she can move into immediately, and possibly having to enroll her kids in new schools with less than two months left in the school year.
Runyan's situation is not an isolated one. Under current Texas law, it isn't illegal for landlords to not tell tenants about liens or possible foreclosure on the property being rented. And, there's nothing a tenant can do to save his or her residency if the bank comes calling and wants the tenant out.
However, Runyan's real estate attorney, Rachel Khirallah, says the landlord in this case, Mark Disanti, is liable for Runyan's displacement because he rented her the property while aware that foreclosure was inevitable after a court judgment to foreclose was issued in February of 2016, a year and a half before the lease was signed.
Khirallah says long delays between a judgment and actual foreclosure are not unusual, as tax laws sometimes make it more financially beneficial for banks to hold off on initiating the sale process.
Runyan says the representative for the winning bid on her house told her this isn't the first time Disanti has been unethical with a property.
"He said I was definitely caught in a scam, and he has seen it before from these individuals," Runyan said.
Disanti's attorney did not respond to a request for comment about the property sale.
While it's too late for Runyan to do anything about it now, she hopes her story will help other renters avoid her fate. She's also making it a mission to get politicians to pass protections for tenants.
"We do know some legislators, so this is definitely something that, if I can partner up with the right influencers, this is something that shouldn't happen to anybody."
Khirallah says the best protection is to do a title check on a property, which real estate agents sometimes fail to perform, before signing any agreement. That will uncover any liens or other issues with the ownership of the property.
If you'd like to help the Runyan family, a friend has set up a GoFundMe account, something Runyan says she was reluctant to accept, but eventually allowed because any help is needed help right now.