Collateral damage in mortgage meltdown

  • The Harvey's from left, Libera, 3, Hannah , John, 6 months and Jared in front of the home they rent in Santa Rosa, July 30, 2011.

For Hannah Gilman and her husband, Jared Harney, finding a nice house in a good neighborhood meant getting creative.

With two small children and one salary limiting their options, the two 24-year-olds recruited Gilman's sister, a friend and another family to move together to a deceptively large A-frame on Carrillo Street in Santa Rosa's Ridgway neighborhood.

To lower costs further, they spent a week painting the rooms in a deal to knock down the first month's rent. Things, though, unraveled quickly. Shortly after they moved in June 17, a man knocked at the door bewildered to find tenants inside. The house, he told them, was scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction.

They called their landlord, Ron Barbieri, a broker for Keller Williams Realty, who assured them they had nothing to worry about, Gilman said.

But on July 3, one day after Barbieri collected the group's $1,975 rent, Gilman and Harney came home from celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary to find a notice on the front door.

The house was now property of OneWest Bank. And it warned they needed to call to arrange moving out or risk being evicted by the sheriff, Gilman said. The couple laughed at first, but reality set in quickly.

"It was like we can't catch a break," Gilman said. "It was a little devastating."

The home, they learned, had been sold on June 29, four days before Barbieri collected July's rent on a house he no longer owned.

It was the beginning of an increasingly frustrating month for the housemates. Not only have they been unable to recover their rent and their deposit of more than $2,000 from Barbieri, they've been facing the threat of eviction.

Last week, they received a call from an agent of the bank, saying the property may not be suitable for human habitation, Gilman said. An inspector toured the house Thursday, though the tenants don't yet know the results.

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