My phone rang the other day, and the conversation that ensued was so familiar it might as well have been scripted.

On the other end was a family friend who rents a home. She was flipping out — understandably — because it had dawned upon her that her landlord had not been paying the mortgage for months, despite the fact that she’s paid her rent on time, every month, for years.

Now this outraged tenant, who had been wiping her brow in relief at being a renter and having escaped the financial devastation that hit her homeowner friends over the last few years, is coming home to foreclosure notices tacked on the door. She’s feeling like an innocent victim of the housing crisis, in general, and of her not-so-innocent landlord, in specific. And she’s totally bewildered about what to do next.

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