Property Rights at risk for Virginia homeowners

This is a guest post by Amanda Pohl. Amanda is an MSW Intern at H.O.M.E.  She is a student in VCU’s Master of Social Work program. She received her M.S. in Patient Counseling from VCU and M.Div. from Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond. Amanda works as a Chaplain for CJW Medical, Johnston-Willis.

Property ownership means a lot of things for different people.  For some, owning property is the product of a lifetime of hard work and sacrifice to create a better life.  For others, it is the basis of wealth building that can be levied against the cost of higher education.  But for some, acquiring individuals’ private property is a tool to cut expenses, increase profits, and burden the individual property owner by not providing adequate compensation.  Our Attorney-General Ken Cuccinelli addressed this during the Governor’s press conference to announce the Virginia GOP’s 2011 legislative agenda on January 11.  Attorney-General Cuccinelli talked about the importance of property rights and the rights of individuals and families to own property. He asserted corporations should not have the power of eminent domain in the Commonwealth. Ken Cuccinelli should be applauded for his defense of property ownership. 

The crisis of corporations taking away private property rights extends beyond eminent domain claims of business.  Private corporations are taking away individual and family property rights quite often through the flawed foreclosure process in Virginia.  Administrative errors, fraud, and lack of oversight have contributed to the foreclosure crisis we currently face in our great state.  How can we claim to stand up for property rights when banks consistently have the ability to take a person’s home based on improper information?  Will the legislature make a point to keep families in their homes when banks are erroneously violating their rights as property owners?

While the scope of this problem may appear narrow, it is more wide-spread than most lenders would like property owners to believe.  Unfortunately, lenders do not have to follow a judicial process where foreclosures are reviewed by the court before one’s property is confiscated by the lender.  Senate Bill 798 (SB798) proposes that the court must conduct a foreclosure proceeding and order the sale of a home before the sale can take place.  Perhaps with a judicial check and balance, lenders will be more cautious of errors and attempt to rectify these problems before initiating foreclosure.

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