SunTrust Mortgage Inc. will pay $320 million to satisfy allegations that it misled people seeking loan modification through the federal HOME AFFORDABLE MODIFICATION PROGRAM (HAMP). The settlement says that SunTrust misrepresented or omitted information to its borrowers and failed to process their applications in a timely manner. $274 million of the settlement will go to their customers who suffered financial harm. Additional funds will go to enforcement agencies engaged in policing mortgage fraud.
If you need further information please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.Read More
Ocwen and JP Morgan Chase Face Mortgage Satisfaction Lawsuits
A lawsuit was filed in New York on May 6, 2014 against JP Morgan Chase, alleging that the company failed to file proof of mortgage satisfaction in a timely manner, as required by state law. A mortgage satisfaction is a document generated and signed by a mortgage lender, acknowledging that the mortgage has been paid in full. For the deed to be updated and to obtain clear title to the property, a mortgage satisfaction document must be filed.
The lawsuit alleges that the bank frequently fails to file mortgage satisfactions on time, blocking the closure of deals and adding difficulty to the work of title insurers. In addition, the complaint also alleges that this can prevent property owners from obtaining the clear title needed to complete a property sale or refinance a mortgage. This costs the homeowners financial hardship.
Under New York state law, a mortgage satisfaction must be filed within 30 days or the servicer must pay a $500 fee, with penalty increases to $1,000 after 60 days, and $1,500 after 90 days. It is alleged that based on a review of county records, defendant has failed to file timely mortgage satisfactions in thousands of cases
The federal law is slightly different. The Mortgage Satisfaction Act (MSA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) both require that a formal satisfaction of a loan be filed within 60 days of receiving a written request, following payment of a mortgage loan in full.
A similar lawsuit has been filed as to everyone’s favorite—-OCWEN.
If you have experienced issues with your mortgage servicer, contact Linda Fessler 213-446-6766.
Lawsuit against Ocwen Equals More Scrutiny and Big Bucks
An enforcement action will cost Ocwen a great amount of money. The enforcement action was brought by authorities in 49 states and the District of Columbia as well as CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) against Ocwen Financial Corporation and its subsidiary Ocwen Loan Servicing. The Federal court order against Ocwen which was agreed to by the company, demands that it refund $125 million to compensate people who have already lost their homes through what CFPB called “years of systematic and significant servicing errors.” The court order also demands that Ocwen provide $2 billion in relief to current homeowners who are underwater and in danger of losing their homes.
Ocwen specializes in subprime or delinquent loans and it has been greatly expanding its business in the years since the housing collapse. It is now the largest nonbank servicer and the fourth-largest mortgage servicer overall in the country. Not only has it acquired smaller competitors, it has taken on servicing duties for the some of the big banks. For many borrowers, Ocwen was not their first servicer but CFPB believes that too often difficulties began as soon as a loan was transferred to Ocwen and the company failed to honor trial modifications that were agreed upon by previous servicers. CPFB believes that Ocwen violated federal consumer financial laws at every stage of the mortgage servicing process. The complaint alleges the company took advantage of consumers with servicing shortcuts and unauthorized fees, misled consumers about alternatives to foreclosures, provided false or misleading information to consumers about the status of their accounts and denied loan modifications for eligible homeowners. It also sent robo-signed foreclosure documents through the courts.
The $125 million in monetary compensation will go to consumers who lost their home to foreclosure while being serviced between 2009 and 2012 by Ocwen, or by Homeward Residential Holdings and Litton Loan Servicing which were acquired by Ocwen. In addition Ocwen must complete sustainable loan modifications over the next three years that result in a reduction in principal totaling $2 billion for homeowners who are underwater and struggling to pay off their mortgages.
IF YOU NEED MORE INFO, CALL ATTORNEY LINDA FESSLER AT 213-446-6766
Law Offices of Linda Rose Fessler
WELLS FARGO ‘S FORECLOSURE MANUAL
Homeowners seeking to sue the banking giant for how it treats its borrowers in foreclosure may have just received some help.
U.S. Judge Allan Gropper of New York ruled that Wells Fargo’s Home Mortgage Foreclosure Attorney Procedure Manual will be allowed into evidence at trial. Said ruling was made after a pre-trial motion which argued that the 150-page manual was relevant in the case of Mota v. Wells Fargo because the bank was using it to “falsely create evidence of ownership” in the note. The manual allegedly instructs the bank’s attorneys on how to proceed with foreclosure, even when the bank does not have the necessary documents. After the decision trial attorney Tirelli stated:
“(Wells Fargo) can no longer deny having procedures for endorsing notes or provide witnesses who lack knowledge about the procedures, which is what they have consistently done in the past.” Many attorneys have been faced with witnesses being provided by Wells Fargo who deny there is a process for obtaining endorsements on notes and creating assignments or affidavits when there is a lost note.
FOR MORE INFO, CALL ATTORNEY LINDA FESSLER AT 213-446-6766.
This is an article that has been sent out by the County Recorder. I thought it might be informative. If anyone would like the article in Spanish, please give me your email and I will send it to you.
CALIFORNIA HOMEOWNER BILL OF RIGHTS
The California Homeowner Bill of Rights became law on January 1, 2013 to ensure fair lending and borrowing practices for homeowners. The laws guarantee fairness and transparency for homeowners in the foreclosure process. Here are the new rules:
Homeowner must be contacted prior to foreclosure: A mortgage servicer cannot record a Notice of Default until 30 days after the mortgage servicer contacts the homeowner to look at the homeowner’s financial status and find ways to avoid foreclosure. Mortgage servicer must, at the time of recording the Notice of Default, include an unsworn declaration that says homeowner was contacted or efforts were made to contact the homeowner.
Restriction on dual track foreclosure: Mortgage servicers cannot continue the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on getting a loan modification. Foreclosure proceedings are stopped until a decision is reached on the loan modification application.
Guaranteed single point of contact: Mortgage servicers are required to provide a single point of contact to homeowners who are at risk of default. This contact-who knows the homeowners’ case and can provide updates on their loan modification application-is responsible for helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.
Verification of documents: Mortgage servicers that record and file multiple unverified and inaccurate documents will face civil penalty of up to $7,500 per loan. They also may face penalties by licensing agencies, such as the Department of Corporations, the Department of Real Estate and the Department of Financial Institutions.
Enforceability: Borrowers have the right to seek civil relief for any material violations of the new foreclosure process protections. Injunctive relief will be available before a foreclosure sale while recovery of money damages will be available after a sale.
Tenant rights: Purchasers of foreclosed homes are required to honor current leases, such as giving tenants at least 90 days before starting eviction proceedings. If a tenant has a fixed-term lease entered into before transfer of title at the foreclosure sale, the owner must honor the lease unless the owner can prove that exceptions intended to prevent fraudulent leases apply.
Tools to prosecute mortgage fraud: The statute of limitations to prosecute mortgage-related crimes is extended from one to three years, allowing the Attorney General’s office to investigate and prosecute complex mortgage fraud crimes. In addition, the Attorney General’s office can use a statewide grand jury to investigate and indict perpetrators of financial crimes involving victims in multiple counties.
If you have any questions, call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766 or email LindaFessler@LindaFessler.com
Homeowners across the country have been affected by foreclosure fraud in recent years. The fraud may have involved faulty documents and/or procedures, which resulted in homeowners losing their homes. Numerous states have been investigating allegations of improper foreclosures against banks other third parties. Meanwhile, homeowners have also filed foreclosure lawsuits, alleging that banks and other agencies used an unethical foreclosure process to force them out of their homes.
Some states require that a court filing must be completed before the foreclosure takes place. Some states, however, like California, do not require a lawsuit. Instead, foreclosure is completed in a public auction, which is overseen by a trustee. That trustee is supposed to act as a neutral third party in handling foreclosures. In both situations, allegations have been raised that companies (including banks and trustees) have used illegal means to foreclose, forcing people out of their homes.
Some of the allegations about wrongful bank foreclosures are that many companies involved in the foreclosure process are:
- Providing inaccurate foreclosure documents
- Providing faulty chains of title
- Confusing information about how the borrower has defaulted
- Confusing information about how to fix the default
- Foreclosing in private rather than in public
- Failing to get proper signatures on foreclosure documents
- Failing to have foreclosure documents properly notarized
- Guilty of a conflict of interest
- Failing to inform consumers of their legal rights
In states that do not require a court proceeding for foreclosures, some trustees have been accused of posing as corporate bank officers and illegally signing documents.
According to the Servicemembers’ Civil Relief Act (SCRA), even in states that do not require a court lawsuit for a foreclosure, a judge is required to authorize foreclosures on homes of military members. That authorization can only be given after a hearing at which members of the military are properly represented. The SCRA is in place to protect active military members, some of whom, because of their service, might not be able to communicate with outsiders or make mortgage payments. In some cases, service members have returned from active duty without knowing that their home was foreclosed.
Foreclosure lawsuits have been filed in multiple states, alleging banks and third parties acted illegally when foreclosing on homes.
In response to complaints about illegal foreclosures, Nevada has make illegal foreclosure a felony. Bankers involved in illegal foreclosure may be sent to jail and face fines if they are found guilty of fraud.
In 2010, a California woman won her home back from a lender after it was foreclosed. The 73-year-old filed a lawsuit against Washington Mutual alleging wrongful foreclosure. The homeowner alleged that after she asked her lender to lower her monthly payments, she was told she would be sent a loan modification package. Instead, Washington Mutual foreclosed.
Foreclosure Legal Help
If you have questions or need legal help please call Attorney Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
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OneWest Bank Pays Bigtime for Dual-Tracking in Foreclosure Lawsuit
A California couple who sued OneWest Bank, IndyMac Mortgage Services, U.S. Bank and GSR Loan Mortgage Trust has received a million settlement and title to two of their houses that they lost to foreclosure.
The case gives impetus to other homeowners who have lost their homes to foreclosure to sue banks for the common practice of “dual tracking.” Dual tracking happens when banks pursue foreclosure against homeowners in default while at the same time giving those homeowners the false belief they are working with them by offering loan modifications.
In this case, the banks were sued for fraud, wrongful foreclosure, unfair business practices, quiet title, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. While the homeowners were making payments pursuant to two loan modifications, One West Bank assigned the note to U.S. Bank who foreclosed on both properties.
For more info, call Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.Read More
Here are some tax tips that the IRS just issued. Since it is that time of year, I thought that they might be helpful.
As always, if you need more info call Linda Fessler at 213-446-6766.
Five Tax Credits That Can Reduce Your Taxes
Tax credits help reduce the taxes you owe. Some credits are also refundable. That means that, even if you owe no tax, you may still get a refund.
Here are five tax credits you shouldn’t overlook when filing your 2013 federal tax return:
1. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a refundable credit for people who work but don’t earn a lot of money. It can boost your refund by as much as $6,044. You may be eligible for the credit based on the amount of your income, your filing status and the number of children in your family. Single workers with no dependents may also qualify for EITC. Visit IRS.gov and use the EITC Assistant tool to see if you can claim this credit. For more see Publication 596, Earned Income Credit.
2. The Child and Dependent Care Credit can help you offset the cost of daycare or day camp for children under age 13. You may also be able to claim it for costs paid to care for a disabled spouse or dependent. For details, see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
3. The Child Tax Credit can reduce the taxes you pay by as much as $1,000 for each qualified child you claim on your tax return. The child must be under age 17 in 2013 and meet other requirements. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can claim the credit. See Publication 972, Child Tax Credit, for more about the rules.
4. The Saver’s Credit helps workers save for retirement. You may qualify if your income is $59,000 or less in 2013 and you contribute to an IRA or a retirement plan at work. Check out Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
5. The American Opportunity Tax Credit can help you offset college costs. The credit is available for four years of post-secondary education. It’s worth up to $2,500 per eligible student enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period. Even if you don’t owe any taxes, you still may qualify. However, you must complete Form 8863, Education Credits, and file a tax return to claim the credit. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov to see if you can claim the credit. Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, has the details.
Before you claim any tax credit, be sure you qualify for it. Find out more about these credits on IRS.gov. You can also get free IRS forms and publications on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).