"It's a tricky business accessing property that the bank doesn't truly own, and Beal says the industry known as "property preservation" has plenty of faults. "The pressures are pretty intense," said Beal. A KING 5 Investigation shows that those pressures may be one reason behind numerous complaints filed with attorneys, housing assistance groups, and the Washington Attorney General's Office. Typically, a homeowner complains that they have not abandoned the home, yet but have been locked out or found their personal property is missing."Says Attorney Dao:
"Mr. Ingalls. I came across your story concerning banks' break-ins and would like to inform you that existing Washington laws DO prohibit such conduct. RCW 7.28. 230(1) provides: “A mortgage of any interest in real property shall not be deemed a conveyance so as to enable the owner of the mortgage to recover possession of the real property, without a foreclosure and sale according to law[.]”
A mortgagee does not gain any greater right to possession simply because the mortgagor defaults on the underlying obligation. Howard v. Edgren, 62 Wn.2d 884, 385 P.2d 41 (1963) (A borrower does not lose his right to possession of mortgaged real property by failing to make payments on the mortgage, or by moving out of the community); Northern Pac. Ry. Co. v. Tacoma Junk Co. (1926), 138 Wash. 1, 5, 244 P. 117, 119; Cameron v. Bustard (1922), 119 Wash. 266, 205 P. 385 (The right of possession is not lost because of abandonment). Once trespasser status is determined, Washington law, RCW 4.24.630 allows the plaintiff to recover treble damages, attorneys fees and costs."