Massachusetts homeowners continue to face wrongful foreclosures based on improper documents, despite various multi-billion-dollar legal settlements meant to end lender abuses nationwide. Housing attorneys in the state say banks and lenders are flouting a state law providing struggling homeowners five months to get their repayments back on track before the lender can initiate a foreclosure, as well as frequently basing their foreclosure actions on faulty documents.
Massachusetts is one of 28 states where foreclosures do not need final approval from a judge. State law requires banks to send something called a “right-to-cure notice” when a homeowner goes into default. The document includes information on who actually owns the borrower’s mortgage, who the borrower should contact, and what steps he or she must take to “cure” the default and avoid foreclosure proceedings. But attorneys have found dozens of examples of erroneous or missing information in the notices, the Boston Globe reported on Sunday.
The Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending’s Grace Ross said the organization’s review of a sampling of the notices showed “an ongoing issue that the banks continue to disregard our laws.” Because judges don’t need to sign off before authorities take a defaulted borrower’s home in Massachusetts, errors in the legal notices don’t always keep people in their homes.
A $25 billion settlement with the country’s largest banks in 2012 and a subsequent $8.5 billion settlement from January were supposed to curb widespread wrongful foreclosures based on erroneous documents. Investigators estimate roughly a quarter-million homeowners lost their houses thanks to improper foreclosures and that another 1.2 million had faced foreclosure proceedings based on insufficient or incorrect documentation. But the independent auditor of the national mortgage settlement says the banks continue to violate the terms of the deal and received 60,000 separate borrower complaints in just six months from late 2012 to early 2013.