Trashing or ripping off your foreclosed home to get even with your lender? Don’t try it!
We’ve heard how some homeowners on the verge of losing their homes to foreclosure have sold and/or ripped out everything, including the kitchen sink and it’s continuing.
A local news crew caught just one home owner in the act. I just saw a video myself on YouTube on the subject. With absolutely no regard for anyone including the neighbors the video demonstrated the efforts of the homeowner to sabotage the lender and everyone else in the neighborhood at the same time.
A year ago we had a client bought a foreclosure property who mentioned that she found used appliances for the home on Craig’s list. She said there were many matching sets (of appliances) listed for sale and thought they must have come been ripped out of another foreclosure sale.
Soon after that I heard another REALTOR mentioned that neighbors actually held a “Demolition Sale” on their soon-to-be foreclosed home. The owner sold everything he could even including the bathroom fixtures! Any and everything was for sale. I let her know that was a very serious situation and lenders were beginning to prosecute people for doing so.
Then just the other day I received an email alert from legal counsel for our Association of Realtors reiterating that fact. Homeowner vandalism is against the law in California.
The report said in summary, damages intentionally caused by the mortgage holder can be subject to criminal and civil penalties. In fact, removal of fixtures valued more than $100 constitutes a felony in the State of California and can result in a state prison sentence for a year or more.
Even fixtures totaling less than $100 can result in a misdemeanor and could include county jail up to one year and/or a fine up to $1,000. In addition to criminal charges, damaging a home can also jeopardize your short sale, or impact your debt forgiveness if it’s applicable in your situation.
Some may think it’s about big business, you know the ones with deep pockets “getting even with the man” but situations like this can impact us all. We know that stripped down homes, whether they’ve been vandalized by outsiders or damaged by homeowners usually sell for considerably less than others. Sales like this further add to the decline in neighborhood home values.
So the next time you hear of someone contemplating something like this, educate and inform them of the costly consequences.
- While these laws exist in California, it would be normal to presume that other states must have similar laws on the books, check it out.
So the next time you hear of a homeowner contemplating trashing or vandalizing their home, educate and inform them of the costly consequences!