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Can a mortgage company change locks?

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Dan, Member

The answer to this question is a somewhat tricky one but it is evident, in certain situations stipulated by the nature of the mortgage contract signed, that a mortgage company is allowed to change the locks. But it takes a particular set of circumstances to activate such a chain of events.

According to various real estate and foreclosure attorneys, one's house is considered the collateral for the mortgage debt. Thus, mortgage companies have the right to protect that collateral in situations where the homeowner has:

A) fallen behind in making regular mortgage payments, AND

B) visibly abandoned the property in question.

As long as a homeowner is up to date on making their mortgage payments, they will not run into any situation whereby the mortgage company can change their locks. If, however, the homeowner falls behind on payments, mortgage companies employ third-party property managers who patrol regions to see if such properties have been abandoned or otherwise endangered. If, in the view of the property manager, the property has been abandoned or endangered, they have the right to change locks and secure the property in order to protect the collateral. This can be especially tricky because sometimes it is not...

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Linda Reeves, Member

This is a great question, and one which is being asked with more frequency as foreclosures and short sales continue to flood the real estate market.

The mortgage agreement that you signed at the closing of your property probably has a clause that protects the lender in the case of abandonment. The idea here is that an abandoned property is a natural target for vandalism, damage and theft. Most agreements contain language similar to the sample below from a Florida mortgage.

"9. Protection of Lender’s Interest in the Property and Rights Under this Security
Instrument. If (a) Borrower fails to perform the covenants and agreements contained in this Security Instrument, (b) there is a legal proceeding that might significantly affect Lender’s interest in the Property and/or rights under this Security Instrument (such as a proceeding in bankruptcy, probate, for condemnation or forfeiture, for enforcement of a lien which may attain priority over this Security Instrument or to enforce laws or regulations), or (c) Borrower has abandoned the Property, then Lender may do and pay for whatever is reasonable or appropriate to protect Lender’s interest in the Property and rights under this Security Instrument, including protecting and/or assessing the value of...

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Other ways to ask the same question:
  • – Can a bank change locks?
  • – Can a lender change locks?