Mr Hurt, My mortgage company broke into my house 3 different times in August, September and October. They changed the locks, cut the chord to security system, winterized house and threw moldy tiles on my good furniture. They also went over my contractors work. I told them someone was going to jail for breaking and entering because that is a crime. They even went as far as deleting all of my complaints out of their system. I called in at least 20 times about the break ins. They said no records show that I've called in 2014. Do you know how this should be handled? Thanks, RF
Noah built the Ark because he knew a flood would come. The Union Army built forts because they knew Indians would attack (or vice versa). Most folks buy automobile and health insurance because they know bad things will happen, and if they don't prepare in advance, they will not have the resources to deal with the emergency. Common sense tells you to prepare for likely emergencies in advance.
Visualize a pioneer setting where you and your family live in a tent on a high spot in an alligator-infested swamp. Your wife is pregnant. You need better shelter and safer access. You decide to build a house in that swamp. You have to drain the swamp in order to build the house, and you have to shoot the alligators in order to drain the swamp, and you have limited resources. Remember your mission is house-building, not swamp-draining or alligator-shooting. Maybe you should rethink your plan. But it's too late. Clearly, you cannot spend all your time building the house OR draining the swamp OR shooting alligators. You have to manage them so that all three happen. Our lives might not make the most sense, but we have to manage them on available resources. The true test of potentially spiritual beings like us lies in our ability to make things go right.
We live in a society where we often need to know in advance about dangers and possibilities for confusion, and so common sense tells us to give our business associates, family, friends, and neighbors adequate NOTICE of things they should know.
Furthermore, Government provides three IMPERFECT mechanisms that substitute for fistfights and gun battles when disagreements and disputes with others arise:
- Sheriffs and Cops who maintain order and sometimes do battle for you;
- State and Federal Government Regulators who punish big corporations for hurting little people; and
- Courts where you can battle without violence before a judge, and where you might win if you have litigation competence.
Common sense tells us that we cannot rely on those imperfect mechanisms to save us from disaster, so we should prepare to do battle on our own by arming ourselves, learning and becoming disposed to using the law, training ourselves and our families to perfect our offensive and defensive skills, installing safeguards to alert us to danger, and remaining eternally vigilant in order to protect the life, liberty, and property of ourselves and those we love. And somehow, some way, we must manage to do all of those things in order to find happiness and prosperity. I have discovered that we can most easily and surely accomplish that by making lists with start and finish target dates, backed by plans and schedules, and a visualization of the intermediate and final results.
With that in mind, if I stood In your shoes, I would strive for the following ideals:
LOG EVERYTHING. Keep a House and Event journal and related filing system, and record in it all purchase, loan, and closing documents, communication regarding the mortgage and the house, including improvements, items needing repair or improvement, money spent on the house, break-ins, accidents, cave-ins, sinkholes, plumbing/electrical/sewage/pool/roof/drainage/lawn problems, lawsuits, EVERYTHING; AND use phone or camera to record photos, videos of events for clarity;
KEEP INVENTORY. Add to the journal and files a current inventory of my possessions, update it monthly, and make a detailed list of all missing items and all damages along with photos, videos, affidavits;
COMPLAIN TO COPS. Call the sheriff or police and file a criminal complaint against the mortgagee, servicer, preservation company, and agents;
NOTIFY SERVICER. Send a notice of grievance informing the servicer that I live in the property, and complaining about the damages and and demanding correction of any damage;
COMPLAIN TO CFPB. If the servicer does not respond to my satisfaction (see RESPA for timing), file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, http://consumerfinance.gov;
POST WARNINGS. Post no trespassing signs notifying the public of occupancy;
MORTGAGE EXAMINATION. Hire a competent professional to examine the mortgage documents so as to identify causes of action against (reasons to sue) the lender, servicer, mortgage broker, appraiser, title company, lawyer, realtor, seller, mortgagee, or other entity who injured me in connection with my mortgage. The documents I logged and filed in Step 1 above will make a competent examination possible;
HIRE A CHAMPION. I know I lack the requisite knowledge and skill, and I have not prepared adequately to fight a legal battle, so I select and hire a competent, aggressive attorney, I agree on expectations in advance, and monitor his performance and communicate timely to help him help me. In selecting an attorney, I remember to ask for pleadings the attorney authored and filed in three similar cases, and I ask whether and to what extent he won on the merits of those cases. I don't hire attorneys who can't or won't advocate my cause competently and aggressively.
SETTLE OR SUE. Try to reach an amicable settlement, if if I fail in that effort, sue the all of the culpable parties for the damages and seek an injunction to keep them out of my property. Note that my security instrument for the mortgage stipulates that the servicer can enter and preserve the property if I abandon it. When I stop making payments, the servicer has good reason to think I might have abandoned the property.
- PREPARE and PERSEVERE so such emergencies don't sneak up on me in the future. This means I devise and implement contingency plans, marshal competent allies, lawfully maximize my income, set aside 20% of my receipts for an emergency cash reserve which I never spend, and strive to live within my means and owe ZERO debt. Yes, I realize this step goes in the number one slot in this list. But let's remember how we got here. Lack of preparation and timely action.
I'm not an attorney and I don't give legal advice or practice law. Consult a competent attorney on questions of law.