Banks may break into still inhabited homes during foreclosures

As a result of financial challenges, the housing market and a number of other factors, people throughout Tennessee may find themselves facing foreclosure. According to a recent USA Today report, between January and June of 2015, the state’s foreclosure rate was one out of every 190 housing units. During the period between when a foreclosure is initiated and when it is finalized, ambiguity may exist regarding who is responsible for a home. In some cases, banks may even go so far as to break into homes that are still inhabited.

Often, when homeowners are notified of a bank’s intention to foreclose on their homes, they abandon the property. As a result, homes may be vandalized or fall into disrepair. In an effort to protect their investments, many mortgage lenders will repair and maintain such homes during the foreclosure process. Until the foreclosure is completed, however, the homeowner is still the rightful owner of the property. This is the case whether they remain in their homes or not.

In recent years, there have been several reports of contractors, hired by banks and mortgage lenders, breaking into people’s homes. This commonly occurs because bank inspectors do not adequately survey properties for signs of abandonment.  As a result, work orders are issued for homes that are still occupied by the homeowner. In some cases, people who have experienced situations such as this have come home to find their locks changed, homes damaged or property removed.

While it may seem hopeless, homeowners have a number of options to protect themselves, and their homes. For some, filing for bankruptcy may be a viable option for stopping foreclosure proceedings. This would remove the uncertainty, and potentially allow them to keep their homes. In cases where a contractor illegally enters a home, people may choose to take legal action. The Huffington Post reports that over a five-year span, over 250 lawsuits were filed against companies contracted by mortgage lenders to inspect and repair foreclosure homes. Unless a foreclosure has been finalized, banks and contractors generally have a responsibility to ensure that a home is actually abandoned before entering the property.

People who are notified that their homes are going into foreclosure may find it of benefit to work with an attorney. A lawyer may help them to understand their rights and options, as well as their responsibilities during the process. 

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