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Property “Preservation” or Unlawful Trespass?

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Consumers continue to have their homes invaded while they are away by so-called property “preservation” companies.  If the consumer misses a payment or a foreclosure action has been filed, the mortgage company will hire property “preservation” contractors to inspect the home.  Often times, those contractors will perform lock changes, winterize the property and turn off the water supply, and take pictures of the home’s interior, all in preparation for the mortgage company to sell the home. Unfortunately, in judicial foreclosure states like Illinois, consumer advocates explain that this conduct violates Illinois’ Mortgage Foreclosure Law, which law requires consumers to be able to remain in their homes until after a judgment of foreclosure is entered and sale is confirmed.

Last summer, the Illinois Attorney General announced settlement of a lawsuit against one such company for this type of conduct:  http://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2015_06/20150603.html.

Under Madigan’s settlement, Safeguard, a Delaware corporation based in Ohio, must pay $1 million, nearly all of which will be paid to Illinois residents who filed complaints over Safeguard’s practices. Safeguard must also follow 40 operating standards in conducting inspections and other services relating to Illinois properties set by Madigan’s office to ensure homeowners’ rights are protected.

Sometimes, these contractors do not enter the home but instead, conduct repeated inspection “drive-bys” and then tag on those fees to the mortgage.  Just last week, the National Consumer Law Center announced litigation relating to the fees being asserted against homeowners for similar conduct, as explained at http://www.nclc.org/media-center/nclc-sues-nationstar-mortgage.html.

If you suspect your home has been entered, or if you have received a bill reflecting multiple inspection fees for property “preservation” services, contact an attorney for assistance.