Homeowners may declare bankruptcy for any number of reasons. In some cases, homeowners may have experienced a temporary setback such as a job loss. Others may have unexpected medical bills. Still others may have simply gotten in over their heads with debt.
Whatever the reason for the bankruptcy, many homeowners are concerned about the same thing: foreclosure. It is very common for those considering bankruptcy to be in foreclosure; in such a situation, it is only natural to be concerned about keeping one's home.
Washington homeowners who are in foreclosure seem to have a new concern, however. There have recently been reports from across the nation that a company called Safeguard may be mistreating homeowners in foreclosure.
Safeguard is a company contracted by the bank to enter unoccupied homes in foreclosure and perform the maintenance required to close and protect the home. Reports say, however, that the company has been entering occupied homes and trying to force the occupants to leave. Occupants will sometimes be told that they have to move out, even when they have no legal obligation to go. In other cases, Safeguard subcontractors will do thousands of dollars of damage to occupied houses as they enter and exit.
Safeguard subcontractors are paid by the house, leading to accusations that they are incentivized to work on occupied homes. Employees have been accused of ignoring obvious signs of occupancy such as a barking dog, a car in the driveway or a neighbor's advice.
Hundreds of cases of abuse have already been documented across the country. Safeguard has stated that they respond promptly and appropriately to any misconduct by its employees.
Though bankruptcy is effective at putting a stop to the foreclosure process, ultimately whether to keep one's home or not depends on one's financial situation. Some homeowners may be able to retain their residence, while for others it will be best to allow it to return to the bank. Homeowners in such a situation may wish to seek professional advice before making any decisions.
Source: DealBook, "Invasive Tactic in Foreclosures Draws Scrutiny" Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Sep. 09, 2013