In the sordid underworld of foreclosure-related reporting, certain stories have started to develop a prototypical feel. Bank Forecloses on Wrong Home. Bank Forecloses on Home with No Mortgage. Bank Refuses Even to Talk About Short Sale. Bank Sends Borrower into HAMP-Created Hall of Mirrors and Forecloses Anyhow.
The problem with stories becoming cliched is that the force of the recognition of the injustice loses some of its punch with repetition. But one type of story still seems to trigger well warranted outrage in the public: Bank Breaks Into House.
It still seems incredible to most citizens that banks can break locks, go into houses, remove property, and the police don’t consider it to be a crime, even when a bank agent breaks into the wrong home. Since banks routinely force their way into houses during foreclosures, the police apparently can’t wrap their minds around the fact that servicers might be going into houses they aren’t entitled to invade.
One case that got national attention was that of Nancy Jacobini. A company hired by JP Morgan to manage properties broke into her home while she was inside even though the property was not in foreclosure:
And to add insult to injury, the bank broke in a second time, after Jacobini had filed suit in Federal court. The lame excuses made, that she was not paying her utilities and had abandoned the house, were simply untrue.
Jacobini’s attorney Matt Weidner obtained a favorable ruling today on the bank’s actions. If you read the order, the judge clearly does not buy the bank’s position that it had a broad right to enter the house. The judge looks to the limitations put on the banks’ right to gain access and dismissed JP Morgan’s motion to dismiss, except with regards to a claim regarding good faith and fair dealing (a motion generally included in most suits related to contracts but seldom meaningful on a practical level). The logic of the ruling suggests this case is not looking good for the bank side.
Nevertheless, her attorney, Matt Weidner, is appealing this order. Why? Get this: JP Morgan had NO legal relationship to Jacobini at the time of the break ins. It has filed a robo-signed assignment of mortgage that post-dates the break-in. The practical implication is that random financial institutions are being allowed to barge into people’s properties, and the only recourse they have is a slow, costly adjudication.
Let’s hope that Jacobini succeeds in making this sort of abuse costly for JP Morgan. Hitting banks in the wallet may be the only way to get their attention.