Contributing Editors

Sensitive Veteran Records From Arlington Cemetery Discovered in Abandoned Storage Unit

by John Stevens June 24, 2011 9:22 AM
A self storage manager of a Northern Virginia facility came across 69 boxes of Arlington National Cemetery burial records on June 10 inside an abandoned storage unit. The discovery has triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives which says the incident has raised questions of privacy issues and indicates another sign of management problems at the Army-run cemetery. [More]

Lenders Continue to Rein in the “Burger King Kids”

by Tony Gonzalez October 14, 2010 11:53 PM
Who is responsible for deciding if your home will be foreclosed on? At JP Morgan Chase, according to yesterday’s New York Times, the bureaucrats in charge of foreclosure paperwork were called the “Burger King kids” because they had so little experience in banking. At Citigroup and GMAC Mortgage, foreclosure paperwork was not always done by the lender itself -- instead, lenders outsourced the paperwork to workers in Guam and the Philippines. Inexpert workers sometimes threw needed paperwork in the trash, the Times reported. The charges were just the latest in a round of criticisms of the mortgage industry’s “robo-signers,” bank employees who were in charge of checking foreclosure documents prior to a repossession by the bank.

As the foreclosure crisis deepens, Attorney Generals in all 50 states have announced that they will work together on a joint investigation. At least six major lenders are reviewing their own foreclosure procedures internally, while four lenders have announced a moratorium on foreclosures until they can complete an internal review. Self storage industry experts have watched the crisis unfold with concern, as self storage companies step in to help Americans who have lost their homes and need a place to put their possessions. Several self storage companies offer discounts or free rent for the first month, partially in an attempt to offer some relief to new tenants who may be facing foreclosure, unemployment, or who are recovering from other crises. [More]

Are Foreclosures Fair? “Robo-Signers” Confess Amid Mortgage Company Investigations and Fraud, Forgery Allegations

by Holly Robinson September 23, 2010 11:51 PM
There are many reasons, happy and sad, to become a self storage tenant, but one of the saddest must be to have to put belongings in self storage because your home has been foreclosed on. But in a recession economy, foreclosures seem to have become the new American experience, with millions of Americans from all walks of life losing their homes. Self storage companies have stepped up to the plate, offering storage to families who are going through a transition from one home to another, providing the first month or two of storage at a discount while families struggle to get back on their feet, and providing discounts to families with special circumstances, such as military families. Families who use self storage typically do so temporarily, while they are in transition, with the average self storage tenancy for an individual or family lasting about 11 months, according to industry statistics published last May in NuWire Investor.

Now it is becoming clear that one subset of self storage customers -- families who have lost their homes to foreclosure -- may have been improperly evicted from their homes in a deeply flawed foreclosure process that does not allow for careful and thorough review of mortgage documents and records to occur before the eviction process begins. Some bank employees are signing off on foreclosure documents without first going through the documents to make sure that the foreclosure is truly justified. Some of the foreclosures that have been processed over the last few years not only were processed far too quickly and sloppily, but are not even legal, because some files contained documents that were forged, signatures that were forged, names of made-up companies and employees from those companies, and affidavits that were signed without the presence of a notary (or that were signed by a notary several days after the initial signature that the notary was supposed to have witnessed). [More]