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]