May 12, 2014
I think everyone would answer this one the same. What if I asked the same question but added that the entity responsible for locking you and your 5 year old son out of the house right before Christmas was your friendly bank. Yes the same one that you make your mortgage payment to.
This is actually a true story that happened to a client of mine. I will keep the names anonymous but tell you the story none the less.
My client (single parent of one 5 year old son) wanted to get a loan modification from Bank A and went through the arduous process. Bank A told him to make 3 trial payments and then he would be done. He made 3 trial payments and low and behold Bank A did not cash the checks. They sent all 3 back to him stating that they were not for the actual loan amount so they could not accept them.
I personally saw the modification along with the prior payment amount and the new agreed to payment amount and my client did EVERYTHING that Bank A asked. Bank A should have accepted the payments since they offered to and my client accepted their offer by tendering the payments. Recent case law finds that Bank A could be sued in this in case and would be forced to do what they should have done in the first place.
My client did not sue. Instead he agreed to go through the whole process again (he actually didn’t know at the time that Bank A’s actions were against current law). Right when he was almost done with the whole process for the second time Bank A transferred his loan to Bank B.
This all seemed to be okay until 2 weeks later when he arrived home from a long day at work there was a door hanger attached to his front door advising him to contact Bank B. He called Bank B the next day and had a 20 minute conversation detailing what happened with Bank A and going back over the whole process. Bank B seemed to be okay with everything and my client ended the call feeling okay.
Then 2 weeks after the above friendly conversation with Bank B he came home to a notice on his door that Bank B had hired Safeguard Properties, Inc. to secure the property. His locks had been changed and he could not gain entry to his own house. Desperately he made calls to Bank B, Safeguard Properties, Inc and ADT (his alarm company).
He was assured that it was a big mistake and that Bank B would contact Safeguard Properties, Inc. to let them know that they should change the locks back and let my client have his house back. I have his phone records to prove that every day he made multiple calls and he would be continually told that they would unwind the situation and put a rush on it – day after day after day and yet it didn’t happen day after day after day.
He finally got his house back 3 weeks later! The food in his refrigerator had spoiled since the refrigerator doors had been left open. All his drawers were ransacked like a thief had been looking for money or other hidden assets. Some of his personal items were missing. Talk about a violation of a person’s sacred space. The screens on all the windows were torn off and some of his alarm sensors needed replacement. If the story stopped here it would be a very sad tale of Bank incompetence but it actually gets a little worse.
After all the dust settled he noticed that the locks to his back gate were missing each time he replaced them. He finally stopped replacing them unsure of what was going on. Well his gardener told him about 7 months later that when he showed up on a different day due to scheduling issues he came across someone cutting the grass. When confronted the stranger said the bank hired him and he was not going to stop until the bank told him so.
We did ultimately get the bank to stop the continued trespass but a few months after that my client received a call from Bank B asking how he planned to catch up his past due balance. In shock my client told Bank B that he did not have a past due balance and to please forward any information they could on this discrepancy. Well not only had Bank B done this terrible thing to him but they also had the gall to charge him for it all and to continually add monthly charges for lawn maintenance to his balance due which was just over $3,000.00.
Can you imagine being locked out of your house with no clothes, toothbrush, etc… for 3 weeks? I can’t even comprehend how hard that would be and especially with a 5 year old. Bank B never even said they were sorry and then they started billing him for it all!
Well we have filed a lawsuit for this poor fellow and plan to have justice served on all parties responsible.
The good news for California homeowners is that as of January 1, 2013 we now have the California Homeowners Bill of Rights. This law forces bank to treat homeowners right or else homeowners can get a lawyer like me to help them. This allows the legal system to oversee the banks and punish them when they do the wrong thing. The law is well written and is a blessing to California homeowners. It’s certainly too late for some homeowners but if the action taken by the bank against a homeowner is after January 1, 2013 they may still have a case. At a minimum the banks will have to treat people right and stop the egregious behavior or pay a price. If someone had made 3 payments and the bank didn’t honor the agreement there may still be time left to take action but you must do so right away.
I sometimes have to scratch my head and say “what were they thinking” when I hear some of the stories my clients tell me. The true story above is quite amazing but it really doesn’t matter at what level the bank mistreats you – the answer is the same – it shouldn’t happen and you shouldn’t have to get a lawyer involved to make it right but here we are and sometimes you do. I think the banks just didn’t want to help solve the housing crisis – while getting bail outs and handouts from the federal government. Well they are back now making record profits and still treating some people badly.
If you feel you have been wronged by your bank you should call us immediately for a FREE consultation. We will compassionately analyze your situation and explain your legal options. You can call me at 877.442.4577 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We handle all kinds of civil litigation matters such as wrongful foreclosure and predatory lending and we also can help you with a short sale if that is something that has crossed your mind. You should call us today since most legal actions have time limitations which can cause you to lose your ability to get relief. The banks have lawyers and now you can too!
Ted A. Greene
California Attorney and
licensed Real Estate Broker