With the increased number of Foreclosures in Shasta County home stripping crimes have been on the rise. At a recent meeting held by the Shasta Association of Realtors Bob Angulo from the Shasta County District Attorneys Real Estate Fraud Division discussed the various investigations his office is conducting.
The most interesting topic was of course home stripping. Home fixture stripping occurs when individuals who are in the process of losing their home through judicial foreclosure, or a non-judicial trustee sale, or who list their house for sale with a real estate agent as a “short sale,” remove fixtures from the home either before or after the trustee sale or short sale.
Fixtures are considered part of the real estate collateral and may not be removed without the advance written consent of the lender. Although fixture stripping seems to be a relatively new phenomena arising out of the recent housing crisis, the law prohibiting the removal of fixtures from real property without the owner’s or lender’s consent has been the law in California for over 100 years.
Banks and other secured home loan lenders are recognized as victims in this situation because, when a homeowner obtains a home loan and signs a deed of trust, the lender receives a secured property interest in the land, buildings, and fixtures. Banks therefore “own” a legal property right in a home’s fixtures, even if the items were not purchased with the borrowed loan proceeds. Written consent to remove a fixture must also be obtained from any second deed of trust holder or secured home equity lender.
Another interesting thing Mr. Angulo pointed out was Purchasers at trustee’s sales are also potential victims under Penal Code section 502.5. Although a bidder at a trustee’s sale typically purchases a foreclosed home in its “as is” condition, unless the purchasers have actual advance knowledge of everything that has been stripped from the home, they may have a legitimate expectation that the home will contain its standard fixtures.
If you would like more information about home stripping or have other real estate fraud concerns you can contact the Shasta County Office of the District Attorney. The Real Estate Fraud division can be reached at 530-245-6530.
You can also listen to a podcast of the meeting on the Shasta Association of Realtors website (Link)