Who changed my locks?
When a borrower becomes seriously delinquent on their mortgage, the bank will eventually send someone to the house to verify occupancy and perhaps assess the current market value. If the bank’s representative, who may be a real estate agent, contractor, or other third party, deems that the property is abandoned, then the bank may change the locks and secure the premises even if the bank does not yet own it. The bank might even winterize the property to defend against the possibility of water damage from frozen pipes in the winter.
Can I get the keys?
The fine print in most mortgage loan documents allows banks to secure a mortgaged property if their field representative sees that the property is vacant. Even if the doors are locked, the bank may change the locks on an abandoned property. Typically the bank will not tell the owner or listing agent that they’ve changed the locks. However, the owner and listing agent have the right to request the new keys from the bank. We have seen banks mail the keys or provide a lockbox combination upon request, although sometimes it will take several phone calls to obtain the keys.
What happens to my stuff?
If a mortgage lender changes the locks on a vacant house prior to foreclosing on the property, they will not remove any personal items. In other words, the bank will not clean out the house before they foreclose.
What if I am still in the property?
If the bank’s representative sees that the house is occupied, then they will not change the locks until after a foreclosure sale. A lot of homeowners facing foreclosure have an unfounded fear that the bank will lock them out of their home prior to a foreclosure auction. If the home is occupied, then the mortgage lender will not change the locks, nor will they seize any personal property.
Should I let the bank know that I am still in the property?
If a person who is behind on their mortgage payments still lives in the property, it is wise for them to inform their bank that the house is occupied. If the bank is notified that someone is living in the premises, then they may not send a field representative to the house.