Citibank: Sorry We Illegally Ruined Everything You Own Because Your Landlord Was In Foreclosure

Do you know what your rights are if your landlord is in foreclosure and people show up at your door to try to evict you instead of him? What if they load all your crap onto a truck and lock you out? No? Neither did “Tabitha,” a renter whose landlord was in foreclosure and whose possessions were destroyed as movers kept illegally loading them onto and off trucks over and over again.

The nonsense began when attorneys for Citi Residential Lending (now CitiMortgage) obtained a court order to evict Tabitha’s landlord from the brownstone that he owned and was renting to Tabitha. To that end, the bank hired a Realtor and the sheriff’s office to evict the landlord. The Realtor, “Jax Realtors and REO Group,” knew that Tabitha and not her landlord lived in the property, according to the Chicago Reporter, but they decided to evict her anyway, (despite the fact that this is illegal in Illinois.)

When she called the company the day of her lockout, she said an employee agreed to let her in two days later at 10 a.m. Tabitha arrived at 9:45 a.m. with a brigade of minivans and cars with friends, some of whom had taken off work, ready to pack, load and move her things, despite the 33-degree temperatures outside. They waited two hours. She said Jax never showed up.

The next day, Tabitha walked into the West Side office of the Legal Assistance Foundation and briefed attorney Jennifer Payne on her case. Payne believed she could retrieve Tabitha’s belongings and get her some restitution.

Payne contacted Jax to see if the company was willing to negotiate. A company representative seemed agreeable and a date was set to meet at the apartment, Payne said. Jax officials did not show up for the second time and subsequently did not return her phone calls, Payne said. By the next afternoon, a truck from a different company was being loaded with Tabitha’s furnishings. Tabitha’s neighbor phoned and told Tabitha to hurry home. She arrived and called police. Some of her property was in the truck, some was still in the apartment. The rest was in a trashcan in the alley.

When police arrived, Tabitha showed her identification. The movers showed the officers their paperwork and called Jax Realtors and the move was stopped. According to the police report: “Complainant stated tenant home in foreclosure and contractor hired to clean building without notifying or allowing tenant to move out. Contractor returned property into residence, building resecured.” Four days later, movers were there again. Again, they left without the furnishings. By this time, the damage to Tabitha’s property was irreparable. The movers had damaged a fair amount of furniture to the point that Tabitha no longer wanted it.

When she learned that Jax owner Michael R. Fields called the Reporter’s office, Tuesday, April 29 at 10:46 p.m., to say she could get her things back from the apartment, Tabitha recoiled in disgust. “I don’t want that crap,” Tabitha said.

The Realtor denies that they ever stood Tabitha up, and blame Citi Lending’s attorneys for the mix-up. Citi said that Tabitha was given an opportunity to contest the eviction and didn’t. As the story went to print, Tabitha and her lawyer were settling with Citi Lending after they were contacted by the Chicago Reporter. They claim that they never received the letters sent by Tabitha’s lawyer.

“If [Jax] didn’t have a court order to evict Tabitha, what [they] should have done was gone back to the bank and say, ‘Bank, you don’t have an order to evict Tabitha,” said her lawyer.

The Reporter also has some tips for renters caught up in foreclosure. Remember, every state is different, so make sure that you understand the foreclosure laws in your area.

A Renter’s Nightmare [Chicago Reporter]

Comments

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  1. OK, correct me if I’m wrong, but your property is your property, and you have a “reasonable” amount of time to move your stuff out if your evicted, right? I mean, as long as the police escort you, they should let you take stuff out. Hell, even Judge Judy lets you do that.

  2. mythago says:

    Whoa. Citibank is supposed to have an order to evict the person living on the property, which would be Tabitha, not the landlord, who wasn’t.

    “Oh we didn’t receive your attorney’s letters” is the stupid-ass attorney equivalent of “But I put the check in the mail!” Of course they received the letters, they just blew her off.

  3. qwickone says:

    Wow. That blows. But it sounds like she knew her landlord was in foreclosure. Why didnt she get her butt out of there ASAP?? And no, I’m not blaming the victim, just wondering.

  4. Marshfield says:

    This is how SNAFU got its name

  5. allthatsevil says:

    @mythago: And most likely the letters were sent certified with a return receipt anyway.

  6. howie_in_az says:

    @mythago: I’m reasonably certain her lawyer would’ve required a signature for delivery, or some sort of delivery confirmation. I’d love to see the looks on their faces when the lawyer retorts with a sly “orly?”

  7. frari489 says:

    If that had happened to me I would either have called a locksmith or busted the door open the first time.

  8. blue_duck says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: To my knowledge, most evictions are supposed to come with a 15-30 notice.

  9. nataku8_e30 says:

    Dear Citi – When sending someone an important letter, make sure to send it certified mail. This is what all of us consumers have to do when dealing with you so you can’t claim you never received the letter.

  10. @allthatsevil: @howie_in_az: Oh, those letters were signed for by Reggie, our mail clerk. He’s special needs and no longer works with us. He shouldn’t have signed for those letters, we think he threw all the mail out.

    I read the article, and it says the Sheriffs Dept. would only evict if the person who resides there could prove they weren’t the person be evicted. The article says the grandmother was in the residence, or tried to enter the residence after the Sheriff’s showed up. I don’t understand why she couldn’t prove she resided there, or that her granddaughter did through things like mail, or having the police run the DMV records, etc… It’s admittedly screwed up, and this seems like one of those things were everyone except Tabitha made some small mistakes which led to this whole diaster.

  11. @blue_duck: Judge Judy gives you two weeks to schedule the move, then two hours to move. Can we let her start handling these things? And re-animate Wapner to take up the slack.

  12. Nogard13 says:

    If the landlord is forclosed on, doesn’t the bank assume the lease agreement with the tenant as the new owner? In such case, they’d have to give 30 days notice to evict, right?

  13. blue_duck says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: She’s the reason I know “dumpster diving” is legal~ not that I do it, but a random lesson learned…

  14. kellsbells says:

    In Washington, if you’re foreclosing on a deed of trust, you have to either personally serve the owner and the occupant, OR post a notice of Default and then a notice of foreclosure on the subject property in a conspicuous place, so that things like this don’t happen. That totally blows tho.

  15. MeOhMy says:

    I wonder if your content/renters’ insurer might be willing to go to bat if you filed a claim in a situation like this.

  16. Dear Citibank’s Publicists:
    Please include a wild laugh track and a zany slide whistle sound effect to play while other people read this story.
    Love, Consumerist readers.

  17. jenl1625 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: The thing is that she wasn’t evicted, therefore she was given no notice that it was happening. A month before, a note slipped under her door offered her $1,000 to move, but she didn’t accept it. She received no further communication about needing to get out, and no court documents.

    She was across town when they locked the place up without notice. She tried to get someone to let her in, and that’s when they agreed to an appointment (2 days later, after being locked out of her home with no warning) but stood her up – in January, in Chicago.

    So no, she was NOT given notice or a reasonable opportunity to get out. The only times they communicated with her about getting in to the apartment were the 2 times they stood her up – and the 2 times they actually entered her apartment to move furniture out, they did it without giving her any notice first.

  18. floraposte says:

    @qwickone: From what I could see, she didn’t actually know her landlord was in foreclosure until the day of the lockout. And she couldn’t make it home at that point, so she wasn’t there when the sheriff’s deputies were there, hence the “when nobody’s home” rules being the operative ones.

    And of course, if she’d broken in to get her things, she’d have gone to jail. I hope Citiwhatever has the Snickers to at least compensate the lady for her lost goods.

  19. rellog says:

    Hope she gets some nice punitive damages. This was woefully neglectful, and both citi and Jax should be hit with a nice fine for screwing up so bad.

  20. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @floraposte: “Snickers” nice you of the lingo.

    Oh wait, where are my internet manners, what I meant to say is: I see what you did there.

  21. ringo00 says:

    @rellog: No fines! Execution starting with the board.

  22. Marshfield says:

    Not blaming the renter here but she must have had pretty crappy furniture if moving it in and out a few times ruins it so bad she doesn’t want it.

  23. AstroPig7 says:

    @Marshfield: It sounds reasonable, but I doubt that eviction movers care about the treatment of furniture. Even nice oak furniture can be ruined after being tossed around a few times.

  24. @Marshfield: I have old REAL hardwood furniture. Get some pissed off movers and a few “drops”, hits on corners, and drags against sharp objects, and it will take some heavy damage. A table with a 1/8″ gouge in it is not pretty. And unless it’s made of diamond, and furniture can get a 1/8″ gouge easily.

  25. RabbitDinner says:

    @ringo00: I agree, let’s take a leaf out of China’s book.
    If someone is loading your stuff onto a moving truck in a situation like this, the best solution is to make them stare at the business end of a shotgun until everything’s straightened out

  26. averyml says:

    One of the Chicago Reporter’s “Tips For Renters Caught Up In Forclosure” is: * OPEN ALL MAIL. Notices regarding foreclosure may be addressed to an “unknown occupant,” especially if the landlord’s bank doesn’t know a renter’s name.

    um…isn’t opening mail addressed to someone else a federal offense?

  27. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @Marshfield: Let me toss your stuff into and out of several trucks and we’ll see how it holds up.
    Not blaming but belittling perhaps we are?

  28. RabbitDinner says:

    @Marshfield: moderator! abuse! abuse! abuse!

  29. mythago says:

    @Marshfield, who cares how good her furniture is? Why is this relevant to anything at all in this post? If your furniture isn’t sturdy enough to stand up to careless movers who think they’re taking your stuff after eviction, you deserve what you get? I mean, really, man, WTF?

    On the lawyer’s letters, even if she didn’t sent return-receipt requested, I bet they were also faxed. If they weren’t, then her secretary (or whoever mails stuff from their office) can likely sign a declaration stating that they mailed those letters. “But we didn’t get it! Uh, them!” impresses nobody.

  30. Landru says:

    Total sympathy with Tabitha, but I wish she’d have the nerve to break the front door in and take her stuff while her friends were there. That’s what I would have done. But then, I’m pretty crazy.

  31. Ein2015 says:

    @Marshfield: Dude, I’d hate to tell you, but leave your furniture in the care of underpaid people who are told you’re being evicted, who are told that you didn’t move your stuff in time, etc… and see how they treat your furniture. I would bet a month’s salary that it gets damaged, some gets thrown away, etc.

    It’s not the same as when you pay a white-glove service to carefully pack up and move your precious belongings.

  32. puka_pai says:

    @Ein2015:

    It’s not the same as when you pay a white-glove service to carefully pack up and move your precious belongings.

    Who then smash or “lose” them and reimburse you for pennies on the dollar.

    Oh, wait…

  33. DH405 says:

    How does a landlord manage to screw up and get property foreclosed on when it’s producing revenue?

  34. JiminyChristmas says:

    @SMSDHubbard: Well, if you’re spending all your rent revenue on hookers and blow…things happen.

  35. ChuckECheese says:

    @averyml: I think it’s perfectly possible to play dumb in a case like this. “I’m the occupant here, and I assumed the mail is mine” would be sufficient.

    The current owner of my home (I rent it through an agency and have never met the owner) is engaged in some major shenanigans with my place right now. First the owner took out sellers insurance on it and made a claim that the sale fell through (all shenaniganized no doubt), then refinanced it (as a primary residence), and finally took out a storm-damage claim on the roof (which was denied because the roof was too old). How do I know all this? Because they had every piece of mail sent to my home. I just read it all and threw it away.

    @SMSDHubbard: How? By being a deadbeat landlord who is collecting the rent checks and not paying the mortgage. It’s a nice way to make a few thousand dollars. Another way to do it is to claim you own a house you really don’t, then rent it to people and collect the money.

  36. mmmsoap says:

    @ChuckECheese: If this were Slashdot, I’d mod you up for the word “shenaniganized”

  37. infecto says:

    Personally I would have just broken in on the first day.

  38. womynist says:

    I’ve seen a number of tenants whose landlords are getting foreclosed on in NH (I do social work), and here they give you a 30 day notice of eviction. And they also do this “cash for keys” thing where the tenant gets $1,000 from the bank for the inconvenience of being evicted. Sometimes you get more money if you leave before the 30 days are up. If your primary reesidence is foreclosed on and you don’t leave, the sherriff can lock you out without notice or a chance to get your belongings. They’ll sell your stuff at auction. “Live Free or Die”

  39. SeanOHara says:

    @floraposte: Citibank has less snickers than an Almond Joy.

  40. Canoehead says:

    @infecto: In retrospect I’m sure she wished she did. Given that she was the primary tenant(or at least could credibly claim she thought she was) it would likely not be a crime, just damage to a property you are renting like an accidental hole in the wall from a table leg. Sure you’d have to reimburse your landlord, but if you only broke the lock they would likely not care since the bank will have to replace it anyway. At worst, they dock your damage deposit.

  41. Alex7575 says:

    Consumerist,

    If I were to make a comment joking about how blacks in my office are lazy, what would have done to my comment?

    How about a demeaning comment about retarded people? Like my son who has Down syndrome?

    I’m looking at you Git em Steve… I don’t care about people using the word “retarded”, it’s a word and there’s nothing I can do about it. But you crossed the line, you specifically used a disabled person for nothing but comedy, and the worst part is that you even failed at that.

  42. jordy777 says:

    @Marshfield: You suck, and you just got so collectively housed its ANIMAL @#$%@#$ CRAZY! Boo-Yah!

    And yeah, if I were the tenant and these movers put even the tiniest scratch on my stuff, I would scream bloody murder and want it replaced. The fact that you would even move this topic into a discussion about furniture quality is incomprehensibly stupid.

    PS – People that precede a statement with “not to be rude/offensive” or “not to blame the renter here” are doing exactly what they did not intend to do.

  43. RabbitDinner says:
  44. coren says:

    @mythago: Do you go around telling all the people who get off the main topic that it’s not relevant?

    @Alex7575: Uh…no one made fun of Down’s Syndrome, he didn’t say retarded, and it’s a fictional person. Overreact much?

  45. mythago says:

    @coren, sorry, did you want to say that Tabitha deserved it because of her crappy furniture, too?

  46. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @Alex7575: Nobody used the words “retarded” or “Down’s syndrome.” He was providing a hypothetical bullshit excuse for a company that wanted to disclaim its receipt of certified letters.

    Laugh riot? Maybe not, but the joke is about companies who make shit up to get out of trouble, not disabled people. Would it have made you feel better if the bullshit excuse were something like “Crazy Larry in the mailroom set all the mail on fire one day and the men in the white coats took him away,” or would you find that offensive to people with mental illnesses?

  47. Alex7575 says:

    @coren:

    No he didn’t specifically make fun of Down syndrome, nor specifically of my son, how specific does it have to be? He made fun of special needs people who are not of high mental capacity, which includes my son.

    I wasn’t calling him on saying the word, I was specifically stating that fact, to make sure people knew that I’m not one to overreact.

    So as long as I use a fictional character, it’s quite ok to make fun of a group of people? Or did you not understand the reference to a racist remark?

    My son’s IQ is probably higher than yours.

  48. ArdelisDeeson says:

    SteveDave, Wapner doesn’t need any animating: he’s still alive at age 88.


    Charlene charlene.vickers@gmail.com

    There are no family crests, battle shields, or flags bearing a weasel,
    fingers steepled politely, and the legend “FREEDOM, AT SOME POINT,
    WOULD BE LOVELY, IF IT ISN’T TOO MUCH TROUBLE.”

    –Christine Olinger

  49. Alex7575 says:

    @CumaeanSibyl:

    There are groups of people that even in the joke format you described (and Git Em Dave used) are off limits and/or taboo, I know that I’m asking to add to a list of said taboos, but at the same time my sense to protect my son is much more venal for me.

    I hope you can agree/understand my point so far.

    I can’t fight people to respect people with Down syndrome, like you pointed out, I don’t have anyone in my family that is “certifiably crazy”, but if I did it would’ve been offensive in my eyes also. I completely understood your point.

    BUT, what I can do, is to ask people to be just generally considerate, and I failed to do so. I was angry and frustrated when I posted the first couple of replies.

    I apologize to everyone I offended, and apologize for straying the topic far off-topic.

  50. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @jordy777: M’kay, I’ll agree that his comment wasn’t that smart, but posting “you suck” is basically flaming. Behave yourself.

    Alex7575: Don’t pick a fight. Your comments are completely off topic. If you think another commenter’s comment is offensive, inappropriate for the site, or doesn’t follow our guidelines, the proper way to deal with it is to email me at moderator@consumerist.com – not to start a scuffle.

  51. hamsangwich says:

    We need to start holding faceless corporations criminally responsible for criminal acts. Isn’t removing her stuff without her knowledge, and without legal right, theft?

  52. Wow, I had no idea these things could happen. Several years ago I
    lived in an apartment, which I loved, that was foreclosed upon. The
    landlord owned over 70 buildings, and from my knowledge, still does.
    And he’s a tax attorney, so I’m assuming the foreclosure was some kind
    of “shenaniganized” scheme that somehow he made out on.
    We had plenty of notice, thick copies of the foreclosure documents were
    delivered to each apartment. I was never evicted or anything, though
    the other tenants moved out voluntarily. Nobody ever asked me to move
    at all. I was just instructed to start paying my rent (same amount) to
    the bank as of a certain date. I lived there with no landlord over a
    whole winter. I had the phone number of a manager working for the bank
    who was in charge of the property. Only had to talk to him once when
    the furnace went out, to have him authorize charges for having the
    furnace serviced.
    I stayed there several months after new landlords bought the place
    too… Until I found a place I wanted to move to. And only because the
    new landlords had delusions of grandeur about how much they could
    charge – they raised my rent 30%, couldn’t get the units filled at
    their high prices, so they got nothing at all and wound up having to
    sell the building after I moved out. But that’s another story.
    Frankly, the bank was a better landlord than other landlords I’ve experienced!
    But, I did have a year lease that was signed just a month or 2 before
    the foreclosure, and this was back in 2002/2003, before banks were
    inundated with too many foreclosed properties they can’t get rid of and
    don’t want to manage.

  53. SacraBos says:

    @floraposte: Well, we know she’s having no Almond Joy.

    @hamsangwich: I agree, they never arrest a business that doesn’t something illegal. Maybe they need to change that so that they CAN arrest a business. Some officer or employee gets to go to jail on behalf of the business for their crimes.

  54. TechnoDestructo says:

    @SMSDHubbard:

    Part of the danger signs of this last (and most?) housing bubble, which people were warning about YEARS ago, was the fact that mortgage payments were increasing at a rate far greater than rents, thus the gap between a mortgage payment and rent increased, making situations like landlords not being able to pay their mortgages more likely.

  55. shufflemoomin says:

    Regardless of what the legal status of all this is and who was right and wrong, why wouldn’t the heartless bastards just let her move her stuff out? It’s not her fault her Landlord lost the building. I don’t know how I’d handle it if this happened to me, but I guess my first reaction would have been to go to the police if people are holding my possessions against my will. I wonder why she didn’t involve the police sooner. Doesn’t that seem logical?

  56. agb2000 says:

    This is what guns are for.

  57. jenl1625 says:

    @SMSDHubbard: If it was financed with an ARM, it’s possible that the interest rate went up so much that it’s no longer producing *enough* revenue . . .

  58. campredeye says:

    A shotgun in hand is good preventative headache medicine. People would not be getting into my house, let alone touching my belongings if I knew I was absolutely right.

  59. jodark says:

    @agb2000: @campredeye: Seriously. If I found people moving my things out of my house without my permission or knowledge, they would be shown the business end of a USP .45 Tactical to drop my stuff until the authorities showed up.

  60. darundal says:

    @Marshfield: Or the movers were none too delicate with it.

  61. RabbitDinner says:

    Ah, yes, the funny, the inflammatory, and the self-righteous. Nothing like some good comments

  62. mermaidshoes says:

    was she the only tenant of this landlord? i wonder what happened to everyone else…

  63. sommere says:

    Re: how did he get foreclosed on if he was collecting rent.

    I am currently renting my old house. I am “making money” on it, but the rent is less than the mortgage payments.

    There are two gotchas that make that work:
    1. I’m paying down principle on the loan. It forces me to save several hundred dollars a month.
    2. I can depreciate the principle as a deduction on my taxes.

    Clearly, if you don’t have any other source of income, you won’t be able to pay the principle, and thus won’t be able to make the payments, and thus will be foreclosed on.

  64. surgesilk says:

    @Alex7575:
    How retarded…a pretty retarded comment about the word retarded.
    No ifs and or buts, I’m going to be really anal about this.
    Sphincter.

  65. coren says:

    @mythago: No, but attacking someone else for asking a question that’s somewhat relevant (did she have expensive furniture and they were just kinda tossing it around, or was it crappy and falling apart anyway? Details are important)

    @Alex7575: Oh, I understood the racist remark just fine. I think it’s pretty screwed up that you’re going to compare racism to discrimination against those of a lesser mental status, but hey.

    Also, I guess that means your kid has a higher IQ than you, huh?