Imagine coming home and finding a notice posted on your front door:
A person who claims the right to possess this property believes that this property is abandoned.
You just got home–from work, errands, visits. You’ve lived in the house for years; it’s your home. You and your relatives know the house well; so do your near neighbors. “Abandoned?” Potted plants on the front porch, porch furniture in place, house furnishings visible through the windows–this is abandoned?
Sad to say, some people who find such a notice on their front doors just leave. They don’t fight it. They just go, taking with them whatever belongings they can carry. They think it’s a done deal: they’ve been evicted. It’s over. Silent as it is, the printed word speaks.
But it’s not over. A neighbor of mine had this experience, some while back. Her particular posting, titled “IMPORTANT NOTICE ABOUT EVICTION,” told the homeowner,
If you are currently residing in the property, you must immediately contact:
Abdulla H. Hijazi, Esq., Hijazi Law Group LLC, 3231 Superior Lane Suite A-26, Bowie, Maryland 20715
with contact information via phone, fax and email.
Well, that’s one option: you could get in touch with the company that posted a notice telling you your home was abandoned. My neighbor took the wiser action of writing the judge who had jurisdiction. That took care of the abandonment claim, at least.
A call to Hijazi’s office, asking for information, has not yet been returned.
I asked the mayor of my own incorporated community what the homeowner should do. He had a quicker measure: “Call the police.” If you feel yourself to be intimidated, if you feel threatened, then put in a call to the police. The town administrator seconded: “That’s what 911 is for.” Regrettably there is no requirement that someone posting an eviction notice is supposed to let the town know first. No one checks in at the town office beforehand. You could theoretically xerox some notices, post them on doors, and nothing would happen.
My neighbor is someone I have been acquainted with for years. I know for certain that she lives in the house, did live in it at the time of the ‘abandoned’ eviction notice, and lived in it well before.
I am convinced, furthermore, that the company posting the notice knew that the house was not abandoned. I’ve had detailed conversations with the neighbor, and she is fortunately someone who keeps documents, answers correspondence, and makes copies. I’ve leafed through one of her three-inch-plus binders. She has made every effort to do everything right.
So what is the punishment for posting something you know is not true? Well, apparently–nothing. But isn’t it against the law? Well, apparently, if the homeowner is non-white–no. Or not effectively. I mean, is the poster even required to send a letter of apology to the victim? Or is an officer of the court required to apologize to the courts for what one might consider abuse of process? Again–seems not.
Giving up is humanly understandable. I have no respect for victim-blaming. But any house lost–by someone who wanted to stay in it–is a loss for everyone. This is not just metaphysics, as in We’re-all-part-of-the-great-web. It is survival in the most practical terms: if a real-estate investor can get away with this tactic against one of your neighbors, then he can use it against you. We all need to be paying attention.
With reportedly some six thousand home foreclosures still in the hopper in Prince George’s County, it is easy to understand how homes can slip through the cracks. But the effects are horrendous.
More to come.