Floridians who lost home to foreclosure to get claims notice - Palm Beach PostSep 25, 2012 11:56 EDT
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Tens of thousands of Florida borrowers who have lost their home to foreclosure are about to get a packet in the mail that may mean they are eligible for a piece of the $25 billion national mortgage settlement.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced Monday that claim forms are going out to 167,400 Floridians whose homes were repossessed between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011 by one of five mortgage servicers that signed the February settlement.
The agreement — which includes GMAC, now Ally Financial, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America — was negotiated between 49 state attorneys general as a way for lenders to atone for “widespread” foreclosure-related abuses.
About $1.5 billion of the settlement is earmarked nationally for payments to an estimated two million borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure, according to Bondi’s announcement. If all two million are deemed eligible, that’s less than $1,000 each.
“I can’t endorse this process and we decided as a firm not to support this process,” said South Florida foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim, who has concerns that banks are not taking responsibility for their “systemic intentional fraud” on homeowners. “This is a whitewash.”
Borrowers are asked on the claim form to identify bank wrongdoing, such as if they were foreclosed on during negotiations for a loan modification.
The remainder of the $25 billion will go to refinancing for homeowners whose mortgages are underwater, foreclosure prevention initiatives and payments to state governments, which will decide how to spend the money.
Bondi’s office has not yet announced how it plans to spend its allotment of about $300 million.
Between March 1 and June 30, a total of $1.7 billion in mortgage relief had already been provided to Florida homeowners through the settlement, according to an August report from the Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight and independent settlement monitor Joseph Smith.
“The preliminary information we’ve gotten is encouraging, to me at least, but it’s just that — preliminary,” Smith said last month. “Victory is not declared yet.”
In Florida, packets containing the one-page claim form and a return envelope will be mailed through Oct. 12 and must be returned by Jan. 18. Payment checks are expected to be mailed by the middle of next year.
According to the settlement, money received as part of this claims process is not to be considered forgiven debt.
For more information about eligibility and filing a claim, go to www.NationalMortgageSettlement.com or call 866-430-8358.