Citigroup Inc. said Thursday that it will allow defaulted borrowers to remain in their homes for six months and provide at least $1,000 for them to relocate if a borrower turns over the property's deed to CitiMortgage.

The pilot program, a twist on "cash-for-keys" programs, provides some proof that servicers are having trouble getting borrowers who are not paying their mortgage to vacate their homes without stripping or vandalizing them.

The program is available to borrowers who are 90 days delinquent, do not qualify for a loan modification and have a first mortgage owned by CitiMortgage.

Sanjiv Das, CitiMortgage's chief executive, said in a press release that "not every homeowner has the financial ability to remain in their home."

The program, set to begin Feb. 12, is confined initially to six states: Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Ohio and Texas.

Citi said it will even cover some monthly property expenses such as homeowners association and escrow fees if it determines on a case-by-case basis that the borrower can no longer afford them. In return, defaulted borrowers must agree to attend bimonthly meetings with a relocation counselor, pay their utilities and maintain upkeep of the property.

"There's this whole brouhaha around the country about how successful the [Home Affordable Modification Program] program will be and we're turning the issue on its head," Das said. "What happens to those that don't qualify for a Hamp or fail after the trial period, or at a supplemental mod? We are all going to see a big buildup in foreclosures that will come crashing to the market in six to 18 months."

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