Illinois AG seeks to protect residents from invasive foreclosure tactics

Illinois AG seeks to protect residents from invasive foreclosure tactics

Last month, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a
lawsuit against Safeguard Properties alleging that the company
illegally broke into the houses of people behind on their mortgage
payments or in foreclosure, and then not only removed the
homeowners’ property but also locked them out.

While Safeguard is indeed a company hired by lenders to maintain
vacant and foreclosed homes, many homeowners are criticizing the
maintenance firm for breaking into homes and removing property when
there are clear indicators that the houses are in fact occupied ―
such as cars in the driveway and dogs inside the home.

According to the Illinois Attorney General’s office, more than
200 complaints have been made by people in Illinois alleging that
Safeguard has removed property from their homes. Among the
complaints ― and referenced in the Attorney General lawsuit ― are
allegations that Safeguard’s representatives have informed
homeowners that they are not permitted to live in their homes
during the
Illinois foreclosure process
, which is clearly a
misrepresentation of the law.

In fact, under Illinois law homeowners can remain in their homes
even if they are in foreclosure or have missed mortgage payments.
The right to stay in their homes continues until the foreclosure
process is completed and the court enters an order of possession in
favor of the lender.

However, in spite of these protections, the recently filed
Attorney General lawsuit delineates a laundry list of alleged
wrongful acts perpetrated by Safeguard and its subcontractors,
including:

  • Illegally breaking into homes.
  • Removing the personal property of the homeowners.
  • Locking the owners out of the homes.
  • Turning off the utilities for properties legally occupied.
  • Refusing to allow owners to re-enter into their homes.
  • Making deceptive and coercive representations to
    homeowners.

According to court documents, many of these issues could be
eliminated if Safeguard merely trained it employees and
subcontractors the proper and legal methods for determining whether
homes in foreclosure are actually vacant before breaking into
them.

Sidestep foreclosure using bankruptcy

Importantly, one of the easiest ways to avoid the foreclosure
process altogether is the simply file for bankruptcy. For instance,
when struggling homeowners file for bankruptcy, all attempts by
creditors to collect from the homeowners must stop, including
foreclosure actions. In addition, for those homeowners who are
behind on mortgage payments and wish to save their homes, a
Chapter
13 bankruptcy
permits individuals to discharge their debts
after sticking to a court-approved monthly payment plan for three
to five years ― effectively becoming current on their mortgage
payments at the end of that period.

But, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may not be the ideal solution for
everyone, which is why it is always best to seek the counsel of an
experienced bankruptcy attorney if you are buried under a mountain
of debt. A knowledgeable attorney can review your debt and help
determine what option may be fit your needs given your
circumstances.

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Illinois AG seeks to protect residents from invasive foreclosure tactics