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Banks Accused of Changing Locks on Occupied Homes in Foreclosure

Adding more controversy to Florida foreclosure proceedings, some banks are sending representatives to change locks on Florida properties that are in foreclosure, even though they are still occupied. Florida foreclosure defense attorneys are concerned about the implications of this newest scandal.

According to Eyewitness News, an Orange County woman hid in her bathroom, terrified, while a representative from JPMorgan Chase changed the lock on her front door. Thinking the representative was an intruder, she called 911 to report a break-in. The woman was three months behind on her home payments, but reports that her home is not even in foreclosure.

The banks' motive behind changing the locks is to protect the property's value, as owners in foreclosure could choose to abandon their homes.

A Sarasota landlord accused Bank of America of trying to change the locks on her condominium multiples times, even though the building was not in foreclosure. Further, renters in a Florida home in foreclosure reported that they came home to find the locks on their doors changed and some of their personal possessions missing, including six bottles of wine, a laptop and an mp3 player.

The remedy for these homeowners and renters is often limited to civil actions, as Florida foreclosure defense attorneys usually cannot establish banks' criminal intent.

According to the Herald Tribune, some banks will change the locks even before the commencement of the foreclosure proceedings. Further, it can often be difficult to determine who changed the locks, as banks often hire local companies to complete the task.

This is another blow to the nation's foreclosure process, as GMAC, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have all recently suspended foreclosure proceedings after the legitimacy of some of their foreclosure documents were called into question.

Source: Huffington Post "Banks Breaking Into Occupied Homes In Foreclosure To Change Locks" 10/6/10

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