This Remodeler Had a Really Bad Day
Jeffrey S. Treat, an attorney who likes working on old houses in his spare time, paid $12,000 for a small house on Thackery Avenue in Scranton, Pa., in 2012 and looked forward to putting it back in order. That was two years ago, and he might have been a little further along if it weren’t for a mixup with a bank and a property-management company.
His tools and stockpiled building supplies were taken, and Treat is headed to court.
In an article published by Scranton’s Times-Tribune newspaper, Treat says that his house was apparently mixed up with a house in foreclosure two doors down by CitiMortgage of O’Fallon, Mo. Over the summer, CitiMortgage’s property agent, Safeguard Properties of Valley View, Ohio, stripped the house of Treat’s tools, building materials, and replacement windows, then changed the locks and padlocked the property.
Treat had no mortgage on the property and no relationship with CitiMortgage. “I don’t live there, and it was just tools, lumber and what-not,” he told the newspaper. “It’s just bizarre that this would happen. It’s my place and all these people were in there and they took my stuff. Yeah, I feel violated.”
Treat gave Safeguard a list of what had been taken, along with an estimated value, but when the company began haggling, he filed suit to collect $3,500 for the property that had been taken and another $5,000 for trespassing. The suit is pending.
So who’s cutting the grass?
After discovering a sheriff’s sale notice at the house, Treat warned an attorney handling Citi foreclosures that the bank had his house mixed up with one just up the street. That, he thought, would have been enough, the Times-Tribune reported. It apparently wasn’t.
In hindsight, Treat thinks he should have paid more attention to who was cutting the grass all summer. He assumed it was his father-in-law, who enjoys puttering as much as he does and was helping him with the house. In turn, his father-in-law may have thought Treat was pushing the mower around. Now Treat thinks it was just the management company keeping the property spruced up.
After the house was padlocked, Treat broke in to find tools and building materials gone. Among the missing items was a wheelbarrow Treat had been given by his uncle in 1982 when he graduated from law school.
CitiMortgage spokesman Mark Rodgers said by email, “I understand that the property maintenance contractor involved is currently in discussions with the homeowner and hopes to reach an amicable resolution of the matter promptly.”
Safeguard didn’t return a phone call asking for comment.
Jeff Treat stands in front of the house he's renovating in Scranton, Pa. Tools and building materials he had inside were taken in a foreclosure mixup.