Foreclosed-Upon Homeowner On The Hook For Squatters Because BofA Won’t Assume Title To House

(CBS San Francisco)

(CBS San Francisco)

UPDATE: Bank of America now gives Consumerist its side of the story, saying it could not foreclose on the property because the homeowner had filed for bankruptcy.

When a man in California lost his house to foreclosure, he assumed — as most people in his situation would — that any ills that might rain upon this property were now the bank’s problem. But the city says he is responsible for squatters who have taken up residence in his former house, all because Bank of America has yet to assume the title.

The former owner tells CBS San Francisco that the house he used to love has been taken over by drug dealers and prostitutes.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage done to the house,” he says. “It is absolutely enough to make you sick.”

But even though Bank of America has apparently been paying the taxes and utilities on this property for nearly two years, it looks like the bank has not taken the all-important step of putting its name on the title. So according to the City Attorney for Vallejo, CA, the man who lost the house to foreclosure is still technically the owner of the property.

According to CBS San Francisco, BofA would not explain why it had failed to assume the title. The bank did, however, send a crew over to board up the house.

But neighbors say the squatters, undeterred by plywood, have returned. And the City Attorney says she still plans on going after whichever party has the title to the home.

We’ve reached out to Bank of America to see if anyone there has anything to add or clarify about this story. We’ll update if/when we get a reply.

In related foreclosure news, WWJ Radio in Detroit has an interesting story on “zombie foreclosures,” in which homeowners who can’t afford their mortgages walk away, assuming the bank will foreclose, only to later find out that the lender hasn’t gotten around to foreclosing.

In these cases, that homeowner is still on the hook for all the taxes and other costs that would have become the responsibility of the foreclosing bank.

So the lesson of both stories is that troubled property owners can not assume that banks are doing what they are supposed to be doing. And as much as foreclosure, or walking away from your home, will hurt your credit history, you need to be vigilant about making sure the foreclosure process is completed so that it doesn’t come back to haunt you.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.