Should I Secure My Vacant Collateral Without A Court Order?

You have a home as collateral for a loan. The homeowner has defaulted and abandoned the home. You want to secure the home and change the locks. Can you do this without first obtaining a court order?

The answer to this question is almost certainly yes, you can and should take these steps to protect your mortgage investment. Almost every standard loan document provides that the secured creditor can protect their collateral by securing it against the elements and against theft or vandalism or to deal with other common problems like frozen pipes in the winter by turning off the water or maintaining utility service. This kind of self help is permitted when there is no likelihood that it is going to lead to a breach of the peace or resistance by the home owner. However, if the homeowner is living there or even if the property is occupied by squatters the secured creditor may not be permitted to enter into the property, change the locks or secure the premises. Under those circumstances the creditor will need to foreclose or otherwise obtain an order from the court allowing the sheriff to vacate the property before the secured creditor can take the action necessary to protect their collateral.