Consumer Rights Direct Client Services
Our foreclosure work includes: representing homeowners who are facing foreclosure and have potential legal defenses; assisting homeowners who have the financial ability to make mortgage payments if their principal or interest payments were reduced through a modification of their loans and have been rejected for a modification; and providing homeowners facing foreclosure, and homeowners with high cost loans, with advice and brief service, along with referrals to housing counseling agencies, updated information on the various loan modification programs available to them, and updated information concerning their legal rights and remedies, including bankruptcy.
We have initiated a number of affirmative cases in court, to either challenge the underlying predatory and unfair and deceptive loans, or to challenge the foreclosure process, particularly non-compliance with the HAMP loan modification guidelines. We are also involved in defending post-foreclosure eviction cases, either in Housing or District Court, challenging post-foreclosure evictions and raising affirmative defenses.
Our success in individual cases often has a broader impact than for just the individual homeowner. By challenging unlawful practices such as attempts to foreclose or evict without the note or mortgage we are able to have a major impact on the practice of foreclosure attorneys, effectuates law reform that helps protect low income homeowners and provide real assistance to our clients.
In addition to our foreclosure work, the Consumer Rights Unit has represented homeowners in bankruptcy proceedings challenging removals of stays; in eviction proceedings raising underlying problems with the foreclosure; district court cases involving condo associations seeking to foreclose for non-payment of condo fees; and cases involving second lien holders attempting to collect on the debt before foreclosure of the first lien. We have provided representation in debt collection cases. Also, we have handled two major class actions involving Latino consumers who were victims of unfair and deceptive practices in purchasing airline tickets and in a bill paying services.
Significant Client Victories
- We represented former homeowners who were foreclosed upon by an entity who was not the mortgage holder at the time of the foreclosure and were able to reach a settlement restoring ownership to the homeowners and getting the principal on their predatory mortgage reduced by $160,000, with a fixed interest rate of 4%, resulting in an affordable monthly payment.
- In a case where there was an unlawful foreclosure under the Ibanez case, we were able to stop a second foreclosure and negotiate a settlement with a reduction of $121,000 in principal and a fixed interest rate for a Chelsea homeowner.
- We were able to achieve a significant victory in one of our cases on behalf on a brother and sister from El Salvador who were scammed into a $500,000 Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) with balloon payments and high fee. We filed demand and rescission letters under the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, Ch. 93A and the Federal Truth In Lending Act (TILA), and negotiated a significant modification of the clients’ loan, with an $84,000 reduction in principal and a fixed interest rate of 3%, enabling them to remain in their home.
- Another example of direct client services is GBLS’ representation, with co-counsels Pioneer Public Interest Law Center and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, of homeowner Carmen Rodriguez. After Ms. Rodriguez became ill and had to leave her job, she fell behind by just $2,600 on her city real estate taxes, then was faced with foreclosure and eviction. Ms. Rodriguez sued the City of Worcester and a tax lien buyer, Tallage Davis, LLC, seeking to rescind the foreclosure and invalidate a state statute that allows municipalities to confiscate people’s homes — including all the equity built up over many years — when they fall behind on their real estate taxes. Please read more in the press release here.