VALLEJO (KPIX 5) – Most homeowners believe that handing the keys over to the bank is the final step in the foreclosure process, but for one Vallejo man, it was just the beginning of a legal tug-of-war with one of the largest financial institutions in the country.
In 2010, Todd Bishop signed over his rights to his home to Bank of America.
“We had neighborhood meetings. We have Fourth of July parties. It was a great house,” Bishop remembered.
After the foreclose, Bishop relocated to southern California thinking the deal was done. Nearly two years later, he learned that Bank of America had never assumed title and that squatters had moved in.
The home quickly became a site for crime: Drug deals, prostitution and child abuse were a normal occurrence. The once immaculate property has been trashed.
“There’s hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage done to the house,” said Bishop. “It is absolutely enough to make you sick.”
To make matters worse, the City of Vallejo is now holding Bishop responsible for the property and could charge him for its upkeep.
Vallejo City attorney Claudia Quintana said she must make those who hold the title to a property responsible.
“My approach has always been, ‘let’s go to the recorder and let’s see what the records show.’”
But what the records show is not the full story. Bishop said that Bank of America pays the property taxes, insurance and utilities for the home, but fails to take the final step of assuming title.
“The bank has full control of the house,” Bishop claimed.
KPIX 5 called Bank of America repeatedly, but never got answers to questions as to why they had not filed the final paperwork with the city and county. Yet following our calls, the bank did send over a crew to board up the house.
For its part, the Vallejo Police Department kicked out the squatters, but made no arrests.
“It’s hard to arrest them because they will have moved on to their next squatter home,” said Quintana. “It’s a lot like chasing rats.”
Just days later, neighbors report the squatters were back. Todd Bishop is not getting a pass from the city.
“Every property owner has the responsibility to maintain their property, whether or not they want to be property owners,” said Quintana.
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