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 clear whether a property has been abandoned or not. Some signs of abandonment beyond the lack of human presence include, but are not limited to, mail that has piled up, very long grass, or inadequate removal of snow or ice.
The moral of the story is that even if regular payments on a mortgage are not made, mortgage companies are still NOT allowed to change the locks unless the property has been abandoned. The house still belongs to the homeowner until a foreclosure sale takes place. As long as a homeowner continues to occupy the home, even in a pre-foreclosure situation, mortgage companies do not have the right to change locks.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.