Can My Mortgage Company Lock Me Out of My House?

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Recently, we’ve heard several stories of people being locked out of their homes by their mortgage servicer. Under normal circumstances, a mortgage lender does not have the right to prevent you from entering and living in your home – even if you are in the middle of a foreclosure. There are some mortgage companies who have found a way to side-step the rules, however.

If you have missed a few payments on your home mortgage loan but have not received notice of your lender’s intent to foreclose, you may be on the slippery slope, heading toward a foreclosure.

On the other hand, if your lender has already filed a Notice to Foreclose with the courts, you will soon be served with that notice. After you receive your lender or bank’s Notice to Foreclose, you’ll have to make a decision. Do you want to continue (are you able to afford) living in the home?

If you can afford the cost of your mortgage payment or would be able to afford it if you had it modified slightly to meet your income, your best next move is to contact your mortgage servicer in order to apply for a mortgage modification.

In the instance that you are not able to afford the mortgage payments, even with some modifications being made, your home will go into foreclosure in the next several weeks or months. It is important for you to know that you are allowed to continue living in the home throughout the entire foreclosure process.

Unfortunately, what has been happening in some foreclosure cases is that the mortgage company sends a representative to examine the home or property to determine if it is occupied or vacant. This is within their rights. However, upon a cursory glance at a property, many mortgage company reps deem homes as “vacant” when they are, in fact, occupied.

This can happen when you and your other family members are at work, school or otherwise engaged in activities outside of the home. Once the mortgage representative deems a home vacant, it is legal for the company to change the locks and to remove any personal items that they will say were “left behind.”

The result of this action is obviously devastating to home owners who were simply out of the house only to come home and discover that not only are they locked out, but all of their personal property has been taken.

Why are mortgage companies locking people out of their homes?

Homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments are legally allowed to live in their home until the foreclosure process is completed. Mortgage companies cannot legally remove the homeowner until the end of the foreclosure case.

However, if the homeowner voluntarily relocates and leaves the home empty, the mortgage servicer can take control over the home. Unfortunately, some mortgage companies are attempting to falsely label properties as “vacant” when they are clearly still being lived-in.

In order to avoid this situation – if you’re behind on your mortgage, call your mortgage lender and write them a letter, stating that you intend to continue living in the home until the end of the foreclosure case. This will leave a paper trail of your intentions, should anything untoward happen in the future.

If you’ve found yourself locked out of your home currently and don’t know where to turn, call us today. We can (and want to) help!

Image credit: Luke Jones
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