Recently, Nancy Jacobini of Orlando, Florida was terrorized when she realized someone was trying to break into her home. She thought she was a victim of bold daylight robbers. She was afraid the robbers might be armed. It turned out it was her bank, JP Morgan Chase, apparently super-eager to grab her house. Chase had sent out a contractor to “secure” the home and change the locks. Jacobini was home at the time with her lights on, and the contractor scared her to death.
Do banks take over homes before the foreclosure is accomplished?
Many people are not aware that banks routinely invade homes in which homeowners have stopped making payments and change the locks. If a home is vacant, the bank’s contractors step in to change the locks and check out the property. They do this without starting the legal procedure known as foreclosure.
BofA did it to one of my listings, a local condo, vacated by the tenants. The bank knew it was for sale because it was in the MLS and it had a lockbox. I had also contacted the bank to begin the short sale procedure. The bank had not bothered to file a Notice of Default, the first legal step in a foreclosure. As the listing agent, I was obliged to call the bank and request a key on behalf of my sellers. This key arrived promptly I will admit, but what legal right had the bank to change the locks in the first place? I will tell you —-none.
More Bank Horror Stories
In another instance, someone I know had tenants leave a property in Texas which was also up for short sale. It’s easier to sell without tenants, of course. In this case, the listing agent soon heard from other agents that they couldn’t access the property becasue the key didn’t work. You guessed it. Shortly after the tenants vacated, the bank, BofA again, had swooped down and changed the locks. The agent was obliged to call the bank so he could continue to list the house. Again, the bank had not bothered with the legal formality of Notice of Default before asserting its “rights” of possession.
Matt Weidner of St Petersburg, Florida is Nancy Jacobini’s attorney. Jacobini admits she had missed some mortgage payments, but she was living in the home and was actually home at the time of the contractor’s visit.
“What we have right now is lawlessness across the country. Banks and institutions are circumventing our courts. They’re going behind our judges’ backs and they are throwing homeowners out on the street out completely improperly,” Weidner said.
“These are jack-booted thugs driving around with a pickup truck and a clipboard … kicking down doors. And they are unregulated in most states. This has gotten out of control,” Weidner further stipulated.
In another case in Punta Gorda, Florida contractors entered the home of Darlen Dicinti and her husband who returned home from a trip to care for her sick grandmother to find the locks on their home changed.
“These people called Safeguard Properties broke in … They went through my back window – they cracked the glass,” Decinti said.
A judge had entered a foreclosure judgment against the couple, but they are appealing it – and they have the right to remain in the home at least through the end of November.