Below is a client communication from Safeguard Properties issued in response to the Illinois attorney general's lawsuit on Sept. 10:
"Yesterday afternoon, we received a call from a New York Times reporter requesting comment on a lawsuit that was expected to be filed later in the day against Safeguard Properties by the Illinois Attorney General. At the end of the day Monday, we were able to obtain a copy of that lawsuit. Last evening, the attached article was posted by the Times:
Please be assured that Safeguard will vigorously defend against this lawsuit, as this is an industry-wide issue, at the center of which is the very challenging public misunderstanding about a mortgage company’s right to protect a property believed to be vacant prior to the foreclosure sale. In defending this lawsuit, we plan to raise awareness about both the important role of the mortgage industry to protect and preserve properties, and the challenges of doing so. We all know that the mortgage industry is “between a rock and a hard place” when it comes to protecting and preserving vacant properties, particularly in pre-sale status. Defaulted borrowers and plaintiff’s attorneys challenge the right of a servicer to enter a property pre-foreclosure, while cities across the country levy stiff penalties against mortgage companies for failure to do so.
The New York Times article and the Illinois AG lawsuit reflect the common misperceptions of the public with regard to securing vacant properties. As a matter of policy and following industry best practices, we adhere to a rigorous procedure of checks and balances to verify occupancy prior to securing a vacant property. For example, at least two sets of eyes verify a property’s vacancy status. The inspector reporting a property vacancy is different from the contractor who performs the securing and lock change.
It is also important to emphasize that we recognize the need to be vigilant to deliver the highest quality and most professional services on your behalf. As you are aware, we participate in thorough and regular audits to assure that our policies and procedures adhere to all regulatory requirements and the internal requirements of our clients.
Additionally, we have made a significant investment in industry-leading mobile technologies for our inspectors and contractors to improve the accuracy and quality of the services they perform. We require background checks of all contractors and crews, carefully monitor the performance of our inspectors, and take immediate corrective action if policies are violated. We closely monitor all of our processes to continuously improve quality. We take instances of error, damage and loss seriously and not only work to correct and resolve those issues with homeowners, but fully investigate the matter internally to identify and address the root cause.
We will keep you advised on this matter as appropriate, and welcome any questions you have. Please be assured that Safeguard will continue to work in your best interests to keep your properties safe and secure.