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Washington Supreme Court Rules Pre-Foreclosure Lockouts Violate Washington Law

July 18, 2016

In the wake for the great recession, homeowners across Washington had trouble paying their mortgages. Laura Zamora Jordan was one of those homeowners who fell behind on her mortgage payments. One evening in the spring of 2011, Ms. Jordan returned home from work as usual. When she took out her key to unlock her front door, she discovered that the lock on her front door had been changed and a lock box was installed on the front door. The back door of her house was barred from the inside. Ms. Jordan was alone, upset, and completely locked out of her home.

A sign posted on the inside of one of Ms. Jordan’s windows said that Nationstar Mortgage, LLC—Ms. Jordan’s mortgage loan servicer—had changed the locks on her house after a property inspection company found it unsecure or vacant. But Ms. Jordan was living in her home and had locked the door before leaving for work that morning. Her home was not vacant or unsecured. Nationstar gave Ms. Jordan no warning before it changed the locks on her home. Her clothes for work and all her personal belongings were in her house. Indeed, Nationstar had not even issued a notice of default or begun foreclosure proceedings on her home.

The problems associated with pre-foreclosure lockouts and the companies banks hire to perform them are well documented:

The Yakima Herald: Court says lender can’t change your locks because you missed a payment

USA Today: Bank ‘break-ins’ raise homeowners’ ire, spark lawsuits

KIRO 7: State Supreme Court hears case of lockouts by Nationstar Mortgage

Along with Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward and Daudt Law, TMLG represents a certified class of more than three thousand homeowners locked out of their homes by Nationstar. On July 7, 2016, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage, LLC that Nationstar’s practice of locking homeowners out of their homes before foreclosing violates Washington law. The Court found that a provision included in most Deeds of Trust issued in Washington, which purports to authorize pre-foreclosure lockouts, is invalid. The case will now return to federal district court for further proceedings.

If you were locked out of your home prior to foreclosure, please contact us at 206.518.6228.