In Foreclosure Bungle, Banks Accused Of Illegally Breaking Into Homes, Stealing All Your Stuff

A new batch of lawsuits are accusing banks of essentially burglarizing people’s homes, reports the NYT. Before a foreclosure has been properly filed and processed, people behind on their payments have come home to find their locks changed and some or all of their possessions gone, taken by contractors working for the bank.

When Mimi Ash arrived at her mountain chalet here for a weekend ski trip, she discovered that someone had broken into the home and changed the locks.

When she finally got into the house, it was empty. All of her possessions were gone: furniture, her son’s ski medals, winter clothes and family photos. Also missing was a wooden box, its top inscribed with the words “Together Forever,” that contained the ashes of her late husband, Robert.

The culprit, Ms. Ash soon learned, was not a burglar but her bank. According to a federal lawsuit filed in October by Ms. Ash, Bank of America had wrongfully foreclosed on her house and thrown out her belongings, without alerting Ms. Ash beforehand.

The problem comes from a section in most mortgages that lets banks enter and secure it if the loan is more than 45 days late, AND the house has been abandoned. But determining what constitutes “abandonment” can be difficult, especially if the occupants are away, and is often left to low-rent contractors.

After much legal battling, the foreclosure against Ms. Ash was revoked. Her husband’s ashes are still missing.

In a Sign of Foreclosure Flaws, Suits Claim Break-Ins by Banks [NYT]