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Banks accused of violating property owners’ rights over illegal break-ins

Banks accused of violating property owners’ rights over illegal break-ins


According to Illinois law, homeowners who default on their mortgage payments are allowed to stay in their homes until the foreclosure process is completed. If the occupant moves out before the foreclosure process is over, it is up to the bank to maintain the property.

In many cases, the bank turns over these responsibilities to another company. In Illinois, Safeguard, a company that contracts with mortgage lending services, allegedly abused their responsibilities and had a case filed against them by the Illinois Attorney General.

 Safeguard’s role in the foreclosure process

 Safeguard’s main purpose is to determine if a home undergoing the foreclosure process is occupied and then provide property preservation services. When the property is deemed vacant, they access the area, shut off the water, board up the windows and doors and place locks on the doors. In this particular case, Safeguard has been accused of falsely telling property owners that they were no longer allowed to live in their homes, shutting off utilities, locking occupants out of their homes and removing occupants’ personal property.

For example, a man filed for foreclosure after his business began to suffer but still remained in his home. The man’s mortgage servicer hired Safeguard to determine the occupancy status of his home and perform services on it. After determining that his property was vacant, even though they received multiple notices from the man that he still lived there, the subcontractor broke down his door with a sledgehammer only to find that the man’s possessions were still in the home and that the property was not vacant.

 New screening requirements

 Safeguard has had over 200 similar complaints made against them, which are just a small fraction of the many complaints filed by those living in residential properties across the country in comparable situations. In many of these situations, property was stolen from the occupant’s home. For instance, according to The Huffington Post, a contractor in Florida, who had six prior felony charges on his record entered a home and was accused of stealing a laptop from the property.

To combat these situations, banks are pushing for new guidelines to be adopted that subject workers who work on homes in default or foreclosure to extensive background checks. In response to the subject, a spokesperson for Wells Fargo said that the purpose of these new screening requirements is to prevent employees with recent criminal records from working on these properties.

Although these guidelines may prevent contractors from engaging in illegal activities on property, they may not eradicate the issue completely. Those who are concerned about the security of their property during the foreclosure process may benefit from speaking with an attorney who can provide more information.

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