Home fixtures and appliances are part of a home and its value. In today’s world with many foreclosures, often times owners who are on the verge of losing their homes will salvage whatever they can rip out of a home, in either an attempt to sell the items for needed money, or in simply an act of anger against the banks who are foreclosing on the property.
Whatever the reason, when homes end up with their fixtures, granite counter-tops, doors, lights, fans or appliances and other items removed, they end up selling for less — and thereby bring down the value of homes in the entire neighborhood surrounding them.
Often the salvaged items will appear on CraigsList or at garage sales. Commonly removed items are doors, light fixtures, toilets, but some sellers have been know to take A/C units, dishwasher, bathtubs, hot water heaters — pretty much anything that can be dismantled and removed from the home.
Homeowners caught in the act may be subject to criminal prosecution, including damage and defrauding a secured creditor. But, of course, the authorities must be able to prove that is was the homeowner who stripped the home of valuables, and that the person knew it was illegal to do so. If someone in good faith doesn’t know they were doing something wrong it would be questionable whether or not the person might be charged.
But fixtures are a part of the home and are not supposed to be removed, per the deed of trust signed by the owner at closing. So given the owner signed this document, they may have to squirm and get legal counsel to “prove” they did not know it was the wrong thing to do.
If you notice a neighbor removing fixtures, first report it to the local police. Secondly also contact the FBI’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force at firstname.lastname@example.org or 602.279.5511.
These acts are an act of vandalism and theft. The end result affects everyone in the community where the theft takes place as home values are lowered.