With Banks As Landlords, Some Tenants Neglected
Jimenez doesn’t know that Deutsche Bank actually isn’t his landlord. It’s the trustee representing a pool of investor-owners. JPMorgan Chase, the loan servicer, handles maintenance and tenants. Jimenez has never spoken with bank employees. He and JPMorgan Chase disagree about why repairs haven’t happened, and why rent payments stopped last year.
According to Paul Leonard, banks are taking back homes that no one else can afford to buy. He’s senior vice president of the Housing Policy Council, a trade group for the biggest housing market investors.
“Banks don’t want to take your home and own it,” Leonard says. They’re stuck with plumbing and electrical maintenance that is well beyond their mission, he adds. “They have to hire a property manager to take care of the property.”
Yet not all banks do so. “Some are better than others,” Leonard says. “I think that what banks would like to do is, they would prefer a clean sale to someone that can handle it.”
The sheer volume is overwhelming, Leonard says. The Oakland city attorney says foreclosed properties are being bought and sold so quickly, it’s hard to know whom to hold responsible for what. The banks don’t return calls made by the city, officials say.
The U.S. Treasury recently warned banks that they must fulfill their duties as landlords. It’s a nationwide concern. In Maryland, bank regulator Anne Norton says that for tenants and local authorities, the challenge is just finding a new landlord.
“In many cases it’s difficult to find a real, live human being that’s going to take responsibility for that property,” she says.
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