In their zeal to complete foreclosure proceedings, some banks send representatives to change the locks on properties in foreclosure, even as they remain occupied. The incidents of lock-changing pile further skepticism on a process recently plagued by scandal.
A contractor for JPMorgan Chase changed the front door lock on a woman's home in Orange County, Florida, as she hid out of fear in her bathroom, Eyewitness News reports. The woman, Nancy Jacobini, was reportedly three months behind on her mortgage and her home was reportedly in foreclosure, but, according to Eyewitness News, the bank isn't legally allowed to change the locks on an occupied home.
The lock-changing strategy is intended to protect a property's value, since owners experiencing foreclosure often abandon their homes, leaving them vulnerable, notes Sarasota's Herald Tribune. To Jacobini, the bank representative seemed like an intruder, and she called the police.
"I'm locked in my bathroom," she said on a 911 call. "Somebody broke into my house!" UPDATE: Jacobini and her lawyer, Matthew Weidner, told MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan that Jacobini "is not in foreclosure at all." An earlier report from WFTV incorrectly stated that she was in foreclosure.
Sarasota's Herald Tribune reports similar cases: Renters in a Florida home apparently in foreclosure came home from the beach to find the locks changed -- and some of their possessions stolen. And a Sarasota landlord, the Herald Tribune reports, said Bank of America tried to change the locks on her condominium three times, even though she said the building wasn't even in foreclosure -- an often lengthy process that usually involves a default notice, a scheduled auction and, finally, a bank repossession.
As the Herald Tribune notes, "the legal action against lock-changers has been civil, not criminal, because lawyers cannot establish that the banks have criminal intent". Still, it appears that the banks' agents take illegal liberties: In the rented Florida home, lock-changers reportedly stole a laptop, an mp3 player and six bottles of wine.
Bank representatives sometimes change locks even before foreclosure proceedings begin, Florida's Sun-Sentinel reports. Since banks hire local companies to change locks, the paper notes, it's often difficult to figure out who has actually done the lock-changing and on whose authority.
As GMAC, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America suspend foreclosure proceedings because of doubts about the legitimacy of some foreclosure documents, the nation's foreclosure process could face a massive stall, which in turn could further hinder a housing market recovery.
More Americans lost their homes to foreclosure in August than in any other month on record, as banks repossessed 25 percent more homes that month than in August of last year.
In Florida there is a "Stand Your Ground" law or Castle Law in place that allows you to resort to deadly force if someone breaks into your home, condo, apartment or vehicle while your in it, or even a confrontation on the street were you perceive a deadly threat.
The Florida law is a self-defense, self-protection law. It has four key components:
1). It establishes that law-abiding residents and visitors may legally presume the threat of bodily harm or death from anyone who breaks into a residence or occupied vehicle and may use defensive force, including deadly force, against the intruder.
2). In any other place where a person “has a right to be,” that person has “no duty to retreat” if attacked and may “meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”
3). In either case, a person using any force permitted by the law is immune from criminal prosecution or civil action and cannot be arrested unless a law enforcement agency determines there is probable cause that the force used was unlawful.
4). If a civil action is brought and the court finds the defendant to be immune based on the parameters of the law, the defendant will be awarded all costs of defense.
A Castle Doctrine (also known as a Castle Law or a Defense of Habitation Law) is an American legal doctrine claimed by advocates to arise from English Common Law that designates one's place of residence (or, in some states, any place legally occupied, such as one's car or place of work) as a place in which one enjoys protection from illegal trespassing and violent attack.
Castle Doctrines are legislated by state, and not all states in the US have a Castle Doctrine. The term "Make My Day Law" comes from the landmark 1985 Colorado statute that protects people from any criminal charge or civil suit if they use force – including deadly force – against an invader of the home. The law's nickname is a reference to the famous line uttered by Clint Eastwood's character Harry Callahan in the 1983 film Sudden Impact, "Go ahead, make my day."
The bank reps who break into occupied homes in foreclosure in Florida better invest in some bullet proof vests.
Bill Warner Private Investigator, SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM.