Is A Guarantee Really A Guarantee If It’s A “Gurantee”?

Eviction Services says it no longer guarantees homeowners can stay in their houses for at least five months, but it does offer the above "gurantee."

Eviction Services says it no longer guarantees homeowners can stay in their houses for at least five months, but it does offer the above “gurantee.”

The operators of a company that claims, for an up-front fee of $395 and monthly payments of $395, it can keep foreclosed-upon folks in their homes for several more months may be confused about the meaning, and spelling, of the word “guarantee.”

CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming recently looked into a company called Eviction Rescue, which says it “can help delay the eviction date of your property,” effectively by making information and document requests of the foreclosure attorney.

One 77-year-old woman was approached by a rep for the company after she lost her home of 25 years to foreclosure.

“And she says, ‘Well we can fix it so that you can stay there at least five months and maybe longer,’” the woman tells Ming, explaining that she was put off by the request for an up-front fee and monthly charges. She was also skeptical of the company’s guarantee that she could stay in her home at least another five months.

And so she opted to not go with Eviction Services. She did, however, talk to Legal Services of Northern California, where one staff attorney tells Ming that “a lot people come to me after they’ve already paid thousands of dollars” to services promising to keep people in their homes.

She alleges that guaranteeing foreclosed-upon homeowners that they can stay in their homes is “definitely misrepresentation, fraud and unfair and deceptive business practice.”

However, Eviction Rescue tells Ming that, “Effective January 1, 2013, Eviction Rescue does not offer any guarantee for 5 or more months eviction delay. While we have been quite successful in obtaining this time, there are absolutely no guarantees…”

And yet, as of this morning, the company’s website still declares, “We gurantee 5-7 more months before you have to move out.”

That’s right: “Gurantee.” Perhaps that is somehow different than a “guarantee.”

And while, as implied by the company’s own statement, it did previously guarantee at least five months beyond the foreclosure date, it did not provide Ming actual numbers on how often it met that guarantee, saying only, “Eviction Rescue has been quite successful in this endeavor.”

Though upfront payment requirements are against the law in California for companies that assist in things like loan modifications or any other service intended to prevent foreclosure, Eviction Rescue only works to lengthen the amount of time a foreclosed-upon homeowner can remain in the house after foreclosure. Such services are not currently limited by the law in California.

“Due to the nature of our work, we believe we have the right to ask for payment in advance,” the company tells Ming in a statement. “Also we don’t request huge sums of money to begin our program and we continuously provide the highest quality work and customer service, thereby earning our clients business. This is not preying on the most vulnerable.”

In the end, the homeowner worked with the Legal Services folks, who were able to get her another 90 days in the house.