Property management company Safeguard Properties has filed a motion in court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan accusing the firm of wrongfully evicting homeowners who were in foreclosure by ‘breaking into their homes, changing locks to bar residents’ and shutting off utilities.
In its motion to dismiss, Safeguard claims that it did not violate the terms of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act (ICFA), as the AG contends. Rather, the company says it is being unfairly singled-out and was merely meeting its contractual obligation to be ‘vigilant’ in securing properties that have been foreclosed on behalf of the banks. What's more, Safeguard contends that it followed proper policies and procedures when carrying out property maintenance.
Although the Illinois AG's Office asserts in its suit that it had received hundreds of complaints from consumers regarding Safeguard's practices, Safeguard says in its motion to dismiss that it is being accused of violating ICFA rules in only ‘four alleged instances since 2008 from among the approximately 90,000 inspections Safeguard conducts in Illinois each month.’
What's more, Safeguard claims that the state AG ‘acknowledges two of the four properties were vacant (albeit not abandoned) at the time Safeguard vendors performed initial securing services.’ One of those homeowners was service member who was deployed at the time, while the other was an individual who was living elsewhere, the firm says in its motion.
In a third incident, a Safeguard subcontractor who had damaged a door while entering a home backed-off once he discovered that the home was still occupied. The subcontractor repaired damage, Safeguard says in its filing.
As such, Safeguard contends that the state has failed to present sufficient evidence that the property inspection firm violated the ICFA.
For more on the AG's complaint against Safeguard, click here.