First Things First - Control Your Emotions
We get it; a foreclosure is devastating and can take an emotional toll on you. While the first thing is to do everything you can to avoid foreclosure, it's not the end of life if it happens. Believe it or not, you can bounce back from foreclosure and go on with your life as if nothing happens.
Although it's quite acceptable and understandable if you are unhappy, angry, or upset, it's very crucial to control your emotions. In other words, do not let your emotions override your personal and sound judgment. What's our point? Well, do not become desperate or so angry to do something stupid that may leave you on the wrong side of the law as you can get sued for damaging the property.
For instance, do not smash the walls or rip out the wiring with the intention to sell. In essence, you shouldn't let your anger misguide you into thinking that you can destroy the home after foreclosure and walk scot-free. Think about the consequences of your actions and how they're going to affect you, tour loved ones, your relationship with the lender, and the future occupants. In short, it's NOT morally right to trash or damage the property after a foreclosure.
Before doing anything that may leave you on the wrong side of the law, keep in mind that insurance companies are always fully committed and relentless when seeking payments due to missing or damaged items. They will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and may even seize your bank accounts or wages if you're found guilty of causing damages.
Personal Property vs. Fixtures
When your home is foreclosed, you have the right to remove all your personal property in the home. You're responsible for taking it with you or dispose of it as you deem right. When you leave, you have every right to take furniture, all the free-standing appliances, and personal property with you.
On the other hand, it's illegal to take anything that's fixed to the property or to the land that the home stands on. You are not allowed to remove anything that, when removed, can cause physical damage to the property.
What You Cannot Remove from a Foreclosed Home
Here are some items that you can't remove from your home in foreclosure.
- Built-in microwaves, dishwashers, and stoves
- Cabinet and countertops
- Plumbing and copper pipes
- Furnaces and air conditioning units
- Electrical wirings
- Flooring, ceilings, and walls
- Doors and hardware
- Windows and vents
- Sink drains and faucets
- Medicine cabinets, toilets, showers, tubs, and sinks
- Built-in bookcases and shelving
- Built-in pools and spas
- Landscaping and fencing
What You can Remove from a Foreclosed Home
Here are the items that you can remove from a foreclosed home without any legal consequences or prosecution.
- All personal items such as furniture, clothing, and other common household items such as silverware, pans, and dishes
- Personal photographs and artwork on the walls
- Free-hanging mirrors
- Floor lamps and stationary tables
- Non-fixed washers, refrigerators, TVs, computers, washers, dryers, and stereo equipment
- Pets and pet-related items such as birdcages, aquariums, and dog houses
- Indoor plants
- Throw rugs, area rugs, and removable carpets
- Portable fans and heaters
If you leave your personal belongings in the property at the time of foreclosure, the lender may seize the items. Should the lender choose to store them, you might have to pay storage charges.
Vandalizing a Home
As we noted earlier, it's illegal to damage or vandalize any part of the property. In addition to smashing the walls, you are not allowed to spray paint the walls or windows. You should avoid using graphic images or tagging various parts of the home or property in general. You should also avoid turning on water faucets that may damage the property.
By vandalizing a home as a result of foreclosure, you'll not only be harming the lender through your illegal actions but you're also harming innocent home buyers looking to achieve the elusive American Dream of homeownership. In essence, vandalism is against the law and you'll be prosecuted for your vandalism actions.
Consequences of Vandalizing or Damaging a Foreclosed Home
Insurance companies will pursue and prosecute you if you damage or vandalize your home while in foreclosure. When a home is in foreclosure, the lender will generally submit an insurance claim to the insurance company to cover any damage or the missing parts of the property.
The insurance company will actively go after you if it has incurred losses resulting from your actions. They'll pursue you and prosecute you so that you can compensate for the losses. Even though losing your home in foreclosure might leave you angry, you should control your emotions and actions. Remember, you may be forced to cover any damages that resulted from your actions or any action that makes the property less valuable or less desirable.
So What Should You Do During Foreclosure?
The period before-and-after foreclosure can leave you in a very difficult situation. The stresses that come with a looming foreclosure and how to deal with it can be overwhelming. In most cases, you'll be confused and might not think straight. However, it's important to control your emotions and not let your anger get the better of you. You'll have a few months to organize the removal of your items from the property before foreclosure. You can have at least 35 days before the lender knocks on your door, so it's important to pay attention and start the removal process.
Again, keep in mind that you don't have to leave the home as soon as the foreclosure process starts. Although the foreclosure process may take several months, you can stay in the home until when the foreclosure auction takes place. Nobody, including the lender or the sheriff, can evict you or remove your items from the home when you still own it. As such, you can stay at the property until the auction but it's often advisable to start the removal process before the auction takes place to avoid being forcefully evicted from the property.
After the Auction
You'll seize to be the owner of the home after the auction. This means that you'll become a tenant, though the new owners may not kick you out or change the locks. Doing this may violate your rights as a tenant. In other words, they are not allowed to remove your property from the home without your permission.
You'll, however, be given 30 days before an eviction can take place. You'll have five days to vacate the property after the judge issues an eviction notice. The sheriff may have to implement the eviction notice and this is something you don't want. As such, it's always advisable that you vacate the property voluntarily and take all your personal belonging with you.
If you leave your personal belongings when vacating, the new owner is expected to store the abandoned personal items and you'll be responsible for the storage charges if there's any.
To this end, the last thing you want when undergoing a foreclosure is having a sheriff pulling up on your lawn to forcefully evict you. Having your items tossed onto the streets when going through a foreclosure can be heartbreaking. You should, therefore, organize for the removal of your personal items without damaging fixed items that are considered part of the property. Don't wait until the home is auctioned. Instead, do everything you can to avoid foreclosure but if it's inevitable, then remove your items before the home is auctioned.