Reporting Kurtis Ming
Just about everyone knows a family affected by foreclosure. A West Sacramento homeowner called Kurtis, after a company swooped in, just hours after her home was foreclosed, promising to keep her in her home longer.
We’re told it’s a common M.O.; companies claiming to “guarantee” you more time in your home, before being forced out. Our viewer didn’t buy it, and she wondered: is this even legal?
Seventy-seven-year-old Helena Helmold is packing up everything and preparing to move.
“I’ve got my son’s little memorial outside,” said Helmold.
She’s forced to leave behind 25 years of memories after the bank foreclosed on her home. But the day her home sold on the courthouse steps, a company named Eviction Rescue came calling.
“And she says, ‘Well we can fix it so that you can stay there at least five months and maybe longer,’” said Helmold.
They sent emails asking for $395 up front and $395 a month for their services. The company “guarantees” five or more months in the home and tells her to not answer a summons to court.
“They know that you’re kind of like, in shock or whatever and then they’re going to jump right on you and take your money,” said Helmold.
She didn’t pay them any money, but showed the emails to Legal Services of Northern California.
“Unfortunately, a lot people come to me after they’ve already paid thousands of dollars,” said LSNC Staff Attorney Salma Enan.
Enan has helped Helmold file complaints with several agencies claiming what they’re doing is illegal.
“It is definitely misrepresentation, fraud and unfair and deceptive business practice to guarantee something that you truly can’t guarantee,” said Enan.
One state agency has already taken action. After the State Bar learned about Eviction Rescue’s advice for Helmold, they determined it’s unauthorized practice of law and ordered the company to cease and desist.
We asked Eviction Rescue how they can guarantee customers five or more months in homes that have already been foreclosed.
They told us, “Effective January 1, 2013, Eviction Rescue does not offer any guarantee for 5 or more months eviction delay. While we have been quite successful in obtaining this time, there are absolutely no guarantees…”
Really? Because a screen shot of the company’s website on January 23rd clearly states they “guarantee 5-7 more months before you have to move out.”
Helmold saved a couple thousand dollars by not paying eviction rescue, but she’ll still have to move.
“I wish I’d have been a little bit more observant a few years ago when I first got a couple of these loans,” said Helmold.
Legal Services of Northern California helped her stay in her home for a few extra months. Helmold was living there with a tenant. Under federal law, month-to-month tenants have at least 90 days before eviction.
California law prohibits companies offering loan modifications from taking payments up front. But, this company doesn’t do modifications. they do eviction rescues, which the law doesn’t address.
CBS13 questions to Eviction Rescue and the company’s entire statement:
-How can Eviction Rescue guarantee five or more months in someone’s home after it has already been foreclosed and sold?
• Effective January 1, 2013, Eviction Rescue does not offer any guarantee for 5 or more months
eviction delay. While we have been quite successful in obtaining this time, there are absolutely
no guarantees re same
-The homeowner we spoke with felt like she was preyed upon when she was most vulnerable. Is
Eviction Rescue taking advantage of people by asking for money up front and giving people false hope of
staying in their homes?
• While we are quite concerned with the negative impression that our former employee left with the former homeowner, Eviction Rescue does not prey on the most vulnerable. We are a document preparation company, not paralegals, not a loan modification company. We only deal with individuals that have already lost their home to foreclosure. We do not deal with any pre foreclosure clients only post foreclosure. We are client centered and offer an invaluable service.
Due to the nature of our work, we believe we have the right to ask for payment in advance. Also we don’t request huge sums of money to begin our program and we continuously provide the highest quality work and customer service, thereby earning our clients business. This is not preying on the most vulnerable. We apologize for any discomfort our former employee may have caused this former homeowner, but we did not take any funds from her, we did not enroll her in our program and do not believe we have done any harm to her whatsoever.
-What percentage of your customers who have already been foreclosed upon have actually stayed in their homes at least 5 additional months?
• Eviction Rescue has been quite successful in this endeavor.
-What changes have been made since the State Bar advised you to cease and desist the unauthorized practice of law?
• We are complying 100% with the CA State Bar.