REACHING OUT FOR MORTGAGE HELP
We have talked with hundreds of homeowners who had been trying to get mortgage help for months or even years before coming to see us. Almost always the process entailed sending in countless documents, oftentimes the same ones over and over only to be told that they were “never received” or were “stale dated.”
Sometimes the mortgage company or loan servicer would tell them that, in the end, they didn’t qualify for relief, citing some vague reason. Other times the homeowners never did get an answer at all, rather they were greeted with a foreclosure complaint requiring them to defend themselves in court.
CUTTING THE STRINGS
The above conduct (read: misconduct) by servicers is so common that we coined a term for it— the Puppet on a String Phenomenon. In this scenario, the homeowner is the puppet and the servicer the puppeteer pulling the strings. If a homeowner finds him or herself being victimized by this phenomenon, a way must be found to cut the strings if mortgage success is to be reached. Calling the servicer out on violation of the Timely Response Rule is just the way to do it.
WATCHING THE CLOCK
Federal law requires that mortgage companies respond to homeowners sending in packets of material intended to gain a mortgage modification (called a loss mitigation application) with a letter advising them as to whether the package is complete or not. If the application is not complete, the mortgage company is required to inform the homeowner of what items are missing within five days after receipt of the original materials.
Once the homeowner sends in the additional materials requested, the application is deemed complete under the law, starting the clock running for the 30-day period by which the servicer must give the homeowner an answer to the request for mortgage help. Any time the servicer misses one of these time deadlines, it has violated the law.
If it shows a pattern of abuse, it can the mortgage company can be hit with statutory damages of up to $2,000 for each violation. On top of that, any actual damages incurred, including attorney fees, can be recovered. By watching the clock, homeowners can keep the servicer in line and gain quicker and better mortgage relief.
Daniel McGookey, author of Consumer Mortgage News, is a lawyer of 36 years. His firm, McGookey Law Offices, LLC, has offices in Columbus, Lorain and Sandusky, and represents homeowners with real estate and mortgage issues throughout Ohio.