Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Criminal charges from foreclosure

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  • Criminal charges from foreclosure


    I might be worrying too much, but I had some questions in regards to damages and foreclosures.

    I'm giving up my house. The house has a lot of problems. Some damages were done by the previous owners at some point when they were moving out and I've never been able to afford to repair them. For example, the screen door and the guard rails on the steps and a small cracked area in the ceiling in a bedroom.

    The back door is really messed up but will still lock. I've had two window panes to get broken (the windows are about fifty years old) and I attempted to fix these myself with plexi glass, though they are not perfect. Two of the bedroom doors have damage (holes, cracked frames, missing doorknobs) and a plumber had to cut into the wall underneath the cabinets to fix a leak in the pipes... which left a hole. The hot water heater is not going to last much longer. A few years ago I took up most of the carpet and discovered the hardwood floors underneath are not in a great condition at all, though I was told they were when I bought the house. They are scratched and discolored, etc. The toilet is on its last legs and the floor around the toilet is starting to get soft. The refrigerator door always has to be lifted to closed. One of the cabinet doors has come off, another is only halfway on, and the pantry area has some damage. One of the ceiling fans have come loose and can't be used. The house itself is about 75 years old and still has the original windows. I was just young and dumb when I bought and I paid way too much and ended up biting off more than I can chew. Although I had a home inspection, nobody ever disclosed that the garage floods when it rains... so everything I put out there was ruined a long time ago.

    On the plus side, I put a brand new central heat and air unit in for 3500 that will be left when I go.

    I've been Googling and see that some lenders are filing criminal charges if a house is damaged after foreclosure. This scares me. Would these things be considered criminal damages or something they would come after me for? In addition, I plan on leaving the house clean. I am going to leave the refrigerator and stove, as well as all the cabinets and everything that was here when I moved in.

  • #2
    The lender would need to show proof that just as they filed for foreclosure, you started gutting the home and left them an empty shell. As to whether stripping a home (taking cabinets and fixtures) is criminal, that's too fact specific. To be criminal it typically needs to be something such as setting the home on fire. Missing a cabinet door here and there, a door missing to one room, a single light fixture broken/missing, the carpet stained, a broken window (or even several), missing window screens here and there, are normal wear and tear and don't even rise to the level of getting a deficiency judgment on those issues alone. (Regarding deficiency judgement, the wear and tear certainly affects the price of the home.).

    The bottom line is that there is wear and tear. When "they" -- on the Internet -- talk about "damage" they are talking about people stripping the home of everything from copper pipes, to hardwood floors, to kitchen and bathroom cabinets, toilets, sinks, stove, all light fixtures, doors and anything else "easily" removed.

    If the home was included in the bankruptcy, the lender would be almost out of luck short of you burning the house to the ground intentionally. In a bankruptcy you would not need to deal with any deficiency, so the lack of a clean, perfectly functioning house is irrelevant.
    Chapter 7 (No Asset/Non-Consumer) Filed (Pro Se) 7/08 (converted from Chapter 13 - 2/10)
    Status: (Auto) Discharged and Closed! 5/10
    Visit My BKForum Blog: justbroke's Blog

    I am not an attorney. Any advice provided is not legal advice.


    • #3
      All of the issues you have described above are considered "normal wear and tear", especially for an older house. Also, you are generally permitted to remove and keep appliances which are freestanding, such as a refrigerator, stove, clothes washer, or clothes dryer. A lender cannot file criminal charges even if you keep or sell those items.


      • #4
        Thank you both for the information!


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