Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Foreclosed Homes

Be sure to read the article on Page 1 of today's Northwest Herald; then make your comment online with your thoughts.

The Northwest Herald featured a foreclosed-home clean-out service - a company hired by the mortgage-holder to clean out the property taken in foreclosure. The uncaring headline "One's trash is another's treasure" is neither sensitive nor accurate. Abandoned household possessions, such as golf clubs, a crib, family photos, are not trash. And they certainly are not the clean-out company's "treasure".

Foreclosure is an ugly process for all. The owner has lost his or her home. The mortgage holder now has yet another asset on which it will lose even more money. Children have a life-changing experience that may haunt them for years. And a situation not often considered is when it is a renter who must suddenly leave a rental house, because the owner lost it in foreclosure.

You may have read that Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart refused to evict tenants from rental homes being foreclosed upon. He probably found his own neck in a noose by some judge who felt snubbed, but it was a remarkable position for a top cop. And in Cook County, no less.

Here's the comment I posted on

"I am appalled at the insensitive treatment of foreclosure demonstrated by today's headline and article! Household possessions abandoned by a person departing from a foreclosed home may not be "trash". Certainly, family photos, a crib, golf clubs, etc. are NOT trash. The family moving out is not likely to have space into which to move all possessions or the money with which to do so. Your treatment of this subject was very uncaring!"


Dave Labuz said...

Hey Gus -

Due to various past professional associations, as well as a current position in a volunteer capacity, I can offer the following information:

I admire Dart's reticence in evicting tenants, and believe that he has resumed now that his concerns are being dealt with - i.e.; renters themselves need to be served in addition to the owners of the property. Previously, and probably still in practice in other counties, only the owner of the property is notified. One way tenants can protect themselves is to routinely check to be sure that the taxes on the property they occupy are being paid. Outside of Cook County, this is a fairly easy and straightforward means to see what the future holds for your tenancy.

There is a neighborhood group in the Albany Park section of Chicago that is trying to change the law currently. Their point is that such affected tenants ARE paying their rent all along. Why can't the lender allow them to remain in place, continuing to pay their rent to the lender? It would make financial sense, but lenders are poor landlords and/or property sellers, They've been known to diddle around for 2 to 3 months on a valid purchase offer from prospective buyers on foreclosures, as all offers must pass through a lending committee meeting first - DUMB!

That said, OWNERS themselves have no such excuse. From the time they miss their first payment until the day of actual eviction, TWO WHOLE YEARS elapse. Throughout this entire period they are served with papers 2 or 3 times by the Sheriff, and multiple more by mail. They are also blowing off multiple court dates and hearings, all of which have been communicated to them in one form or another.

If they don't answer their door to the Sheriff or sign for or pick up registered mail from the Post Office, it's not because they don't know what it's all about.

On the flip side, suppose we mandate 3-6 month's storage of household items. First, why should the mortgager pay additional time and expense to move all these items into storage? This "owner" probably already owes them $15,000 - $25,000 already - remember that in addition to the mortgage, property taxes have not been paid either - even more cash out of pocket to the lender. Second, as the operator of a storage facility, why would I want this "business"? I would have to immediately publish notice to have them remove their property, and then most likely have to place a notice for auction or rent a dumpster.

True, it affects children the worst (happened to my next door neighbors in fact), but then that's on the parents. That's their job.

Renters, SI

Owners, NO


Dave Labuz said...

Perhaps more to the point about trash and treasure, it IS sad.

None of us right-thinking people, you and myself included, particularly see such things as family photos, baby things and toys, etc. as something that one wouldn't ordinarily abandon or toss.

I think what it shows, in my experience, is evidence all too often of muddled and disordered thinking on evictees' part more often than not.

When my neighbors still had an early chance to easily save their home, they decided instead to go to Sea World and Disney Land in California for 2 weeks, they bought a new car. They bought a sound, movie and game system for their truck, with large color screens built into the front headrests. According to the police commander that purchased it at auction as a rental property, they bought a lot of drugs, too.

It is sad, but all too often, it is what it is.