The LA Times has posted an article about a foreclosure lawyer’s very unusual advice to his clients. The Earl family of Ventura County, California was evicted from their home after falling behind on their mortgage due to a business reversal. Their home was then sold to an investment company.
Their attorney to fight the foreclosure is Mr. Michael T. Pines. After the court refused to allow the family to move back into their home, Pines threatened to hire a locksmith to break into the house so the family could move back in. With most lawyers this might sound like “courtroom theatrics”, but with Pines is being serious.
Pines has admitted to breaking into at least 6 homes, including once with the Earls, so that families could move back into their homes while…only this time as squatters. I appears the families live there while Pines argues there case in court. His unusual tactics have caused him to be arrested in Newport Beach, fined in San Diego, and threatened with contempt and with jail time in Ventura.
Despite that, Pines still advises (and enables) his clients to squat in their foreclosed homes, which has been met with both criticism and approval.
More foreclosure cases are headed for court, housing experts and legal analysts say, as troubled homeowners run out of options and lenders pick up the pace of evictions. But they also note that people who want to stay in their homes have limited options in states such as California, where a lender can seize a house without a court order. That has prompted Pines to pursue some radical tactics and might cause others to imitate him – if he ever manages to win.
“Homeowners have the right to seek relief in court,” said Boston lawyer Gary Klein, who has sued several banks over lending practices, but Pines’ break-in strategy “ups the ante considerably.”
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