Adding insult to injury: fined for not cutting the grass on foreclosed home

By End the Lie

City of Arlington, Texas (Image credit: City of Arlington)

Imagine for a moment you have been foreclosed on and evicted from your home. Unfortunately this isn’t a leap for far too many Americans who have experienced just that.

Now imagine that on top of getting kicked out of your house due to predatory lending practices and an economic downturn thanks mostly to the same predators in the financial industry, you get fined for not keeping up the house they took from you.

It is quite unfortunate to say that this isn’t an absurd hypothetical situation, but in fact the reality of David Englett of Crowley, Texas.

Englett is now being charged for not paying a series of fines from the City of Arlington for such infractions as not mowing the lawn, owning an alarm without the proper permit and for having a fence that is in bad shape, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth local CBS affiliate.

Englett’s story is nothing short of insane, given that he was foreclosed on some two years ago and hasn’t lived in the house since.

“I feel like I’m being punished for something I didn’t do.” Englett said. “It’s really frustrating and costing me a lot of time.”

Englett discovered that he had outstanding warrants when he attempted to renew his truck driver’s license last july.

“I don’t want to go to jail over nothing – never been to jail – don’t want to go to jail,” he lamented.

“I didn’t live there, so why would I worry about it the bank foreclosed on it,” Englett said. In response to the warrant for operating an alarm without a permit he said, “Even when I lived there we never activated the alarm.”

The City of Arlington has responded to Englett’s plight by claiming that if the title hasn’t officially changed, then you’re still the owner of the home and thus responsible for everything on said property.

Englett is having to pay a significant amount of money to the city, even though he is likely having financial woes given his home was foreclosed on.

He has already forked over $150 to remove a hold on his license and he says that he still owes the City of Arlington hundreds more.

The local CBS station’s legal expert Jerry Loftin explained it by saying, “You have to remember cities are all about grabbing money from you[.] I mean they try anyway they can.”

Although Loftin also stated, “If it’s foreclosed, it’s not his,” which is a phenomenal point. If he’s not allowed to live there since he was evicted, how can he possibly be expected to keep up the state of the house?

Englett had a hearing on the matter earlier this week and he is hoping that he can get the matter cleared up.

The City of Arlington simply said that they are looking into his case, without providing any details about what they have found or if they think it is remotely reasonable to engage in such activities.

“I don’t understand why the City of Arlington wants to keep on with something when I showed proof and the bank owned it and not me,” Englett stated.

As far as I’ve been able to find, it has not been reported how the hearing went or if the ridiculous fines were lifted.

Unfortunately, Englett’s unfortunate situation is not a wholly unique one, as cities across the nation try to deal with their budget shortfalls by collecting more money in fines and fees.

According to a study by New York State Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, New York City has a large problem with reclaimed homes with property violations.

His survey, cited by the New York Daily News found that banks have reclaimed around 2,000 homes which amounted to some 3,700 fines.

Banks have been guilty of refusing to pay the fines in many cases, indeed hundreds. This is likely why the City of Arlington chose to go after Englett and not the bank that actually foreclosed on his home.

Deutsche Bank has been one of the worst offenders in New York City, according to Klein’s findings, with 211 of their properties carrying outstanding fines.

U.S. Bank also has around $40,000 in unpaid city fines, a sum which would likely get Englett or any other individual thrown into jail immediately.

Yet for some reason corporate personhood seems to be a one way street since no one is rushing to prosecute U.S. Bank and throw the imaginary corporate person in prison like a real human being would be treated.

The Huffington Post points to several other examples of town around the United States taking a more aggressive approach to property maintenance violations.

In just the past two weeks, both Stonington and Woodbury, Connecticut have proposed blight ordinances along with Bellows Falls, Vermont while Rocky Hill, Rhode Island is currently considering increasing the severity of the punishments for violations of their blight ordinance.

Instead of highlighting the rising costs associated with keeping up properties like the Huffington Post, I think this story is a great example of how banks are treated as some kind of super-citizen which is immune from being held responsible for their criminal activity.

We have seen it in the cases of money laundering, the collusion between Goldman Sachs and individuals in government, the so-called “robo-signing” scandal (which has resulted in at least one mysterious death) and so much more.

In an age when average Americans are being subjected to increasingly draconian laws and the so-called justice system is clearly flawed given that it prosecutes even the most shoddy cases while failing to charge people for crimes for which there is ample evidence, so long as they have a badge, one would think that corporations would be held to a similar standard.

Of course this is far from the case because just like police are held to a different, imaginary set of laws, big banks are given immunity from just about everything.

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about local credit unions here, but the “too big to fail” banks, better characterized as “zombie banks” which have robbed the American people blind and are currently in the process of destroying the entire global financial system, with the help of the private Federal Reserve, of course.

Hopefully stories like this one can help raise awareness of this nonsensical practice and the injustice that has become far too rampant in the United States.

Do your part and share this information with as many people as you can as only through making the majority of Americans cognizant and concerned about this trend can we begin to reverse it.

Did I miss something? Want to share your insights, comments, story ideas or writing? Email me at [email protected]

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2 Responses to Adding insult to injury: fined for not cutting the grass on foreclosed home

  1. Todd March 4, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Isn’t the underlying story really about the municipality trying to collect, through any means (in this case fines and fees) a shortfall of revenue? Not that it’s any less egregious, but from my contacts around the country, nearly every city in America is suffering huge shortfalls in revenues from lower income taxes, to property taxes, to excise and sales taxes as the economy continues to contract. The only people I know personally who are experiencing growth in incomes and hours available to work are those in industries benefitting from stimulus spending. And that is short term as well.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous March 5, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    I say, MOVE BACK IN!!! The banksters don’t own those houses and they know it. WHO KNOWS WHO OWNS THEMS. Even if they did own them, the loan was created from debt. There was nothing of value exchanged. MOVE BACK IN AND MOW THOSE LAWNS!!

    Reply

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