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Banks Breaking in To Homes in Florida – Naked Capitalism

06 Oct

We’ve had some stories of these types come across our desk in the last two weeks – and here comes the story now from NakedCapitalism – so clearly the folks we know are not the ones this is happening to.  Time to put a stop to this blatant lawlessness.

More Law in the Hands of Banks: Breaking and Entering Homes in Florida

from naked capitalism by Yves Smith

We’ve discussed the fact the fact that banks have become so powerful in Florida that they have managed to get what amount to kangaroo foreclosure courts created. Not surprisingly, the assembly line imitation of justice railroads borrowers, and prevents legitimate grievances from being heard.

It turns out that banks in that state are so confident of their above the law status that they’ve also taken to casually changing the locks on and entering homes they don’t own, meaning haven’t foreclosed upon. This has become sufficiently common that the local press has taken notice. From the Sarasota Herald Tribune:

Two Canadian tourists returning to their rental home from a day at the beach found evidence burglars had struck — or so it seemed.

Their laptop computer and MP3 player were missing, as were six bottles of wine. A half-empty beer opened by the intruders was still cold and sitting on the kitchen counter.

But why, then, had the locks on the front door been changed?

It turns out that a Sarasota company working for a lender trying to retake the property through foreclosure sent two men to the Punta Gorda home to break in and change the locks, even though the home was obviously occupied.

It is illegal for any bank representative to enter a property if they have not yet retaken it at a foreclosure sale, especially if there is any sign the home is occupied, foreclosure experts say.

The process of banks hiring people to break into homes, even when occupied, is just the latest oddity of the messy foreclosure crisis in Florida.

Some property owners are reporting the break-ins to law enforcement as burglaries. Yet investigators consider the disputes a civil matter because the contractors do not display criminal intent.

That essentially leaves the property owners without recourse…

“It is vastly underreported; it is happening in counties all across the state,” said St. Petersburg foreclosure defense attorney Matt Weidner. “The more this occurs, the more prevalent it’s going to become.”

Breaking the law (destroying private property, namely the locks, to prevent consumer access to their property) isn’t criminal intent? What about “harassment”and “extortion” don’t these investigators understand? This looks to be more a matter of local law enforcement officials being unwilling to deploy resources.

Consider this example from Sarasota, of a JP Morgan contractor breaking into an Orlando home:

Further note that a later report on MSNBC by Dylan Ratigan corrected an error in this account: Jacobini’s home is not in foreclosure.

Alan Grayson issued a statement on these abuses:

First we see systemic fraud in the foreclosure process. Now we’re literally seeing banks breaking into people’s homes and terrifying homeowners. The big banks claim these confrontations are a result of innocent errors. Come on! How many times are we going to force a woman to cower in her bathroom for fifteen minutes and dial 911 while a man breaks into a home, before we do something about it?

Breaking and entering does not become legal just because a big bank does it. The rule of law must apply equally to everyone. It’s long past time to halt this blatantly illegal activity. We need investigation and law enforcement, not coddling of failed institutions. We need justice for all.

 

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