Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan
announced on Tuesday that she has filed a lawsuit against Safeguard Properties, LLC, alleging
illegal eviction practices.
This comes as no surprise to me--our firm represents clients that have
been the victims of illegal lockouts. In general, this happens because
there are very few checks and balances in place in the "property
preservation" industry. Safeguard is one of the biggest companies
providing "property preservation" services in the U.S.
Safeguard hires regional contractors, who then hire local contractors to
carry out property preservation tasks such as winterizing empty homes
and securing empty properties. The problems arise at several points in
At the highest level, the bank that is hiring Safeguard should have a system
in place to prevent erroneous requests for preservation services. It's
one thing to ask that Safeguard verify if a property is abandoned; it's
another to ask Safeguard to rekey a property before the bank is granted
possession of that property.
In Illinois, homeowners in foreclosure have an absolute right to the possession
of their homes until either a) the court names the bank as the "mortgagee
in possession of the property or b) the court confirms the judicial sale
of the home and the bank's order of possession takes effect. Here's
a tip: in residential mortgage foreclosure cases in Illinois, a) almost
never happens. The "mortgagee in possession" provisions of the
Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law (IMFL) are almost exclusively applied
to commercial properties or residential investment properties.
At the lowest level, the people that work for property preservation companies
have varying levels of training. They likely have no idea what is happening
in the foreclosure case, nor do they know the ins-and-outs of the IMFL.
Their main concern is doing the job that they are paid to do. Unfortunately,
some of these people also steal personal property and otherwise invade
the privacy of homeowners. More often than not, these individuals also
give homeowners incorrect information regarding their rights to remain
in their homes.
Attorney General Madigan's complaint goes into great detail regarding
the working of Safeguard. She alleges that Safeguard and its subcontractors
engage in unfair and deceptive business practices that harm the citizens
of the State of Illinois.
I will continue to monitor this case and update the blog as the case develops.
Stay tuned for a follow-up post that breaks down the specific examples
cited by AG Madigan in her complaint. Some of the stories will likely