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  • Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

    Homeowners are entitled to a number of important rights as they go through the foreclosure process. These rights are designed to protect them and their homes as well as clarify information in their mortgage accounts about which they may have been unaware.

    The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, or RESPA, has made it possible for people facing foreclosure to advocate for themselves during the process as well as ensure that all federal foreclosure laws are followed during their cases. Find out how you can use RESPA to your advantage if you are in danger of losing your home to foreclosure.

    What is RESPA?

    RESPA is one of the most important federal foreclosure laws designed to protect home and property owners during the foreclosure process. In its simplest definition, it allows you to request and obtain vital information about your mortgage from the account servicer.

    While it technically provides no means of permanently stopping foreclosure with RESPA, it does give you the ability to gain key information that you can use for a variety of purposes to heal your account or protect your home. The process of obtaining that information, however, begins by sending a QWR, or Qualified Written Request, to your mortgage servicer.

    The QWR itself can be presented in several different forms. You can send in a formal typed letter asking for more information about your account. The QWR can also be a handwritten note. It is important, however, that you do not write this request on your mortgage payment coupon. You also are not under any obligation to sign it.

    Nonetheless, this request should allow the servicer to identify several important details like:

    • your identity
    • the name of the account holder
    • details about why the account might be in error
    • specifics about what information you are seeking from the servicer
    Once the servicer receives your written request, it has 30 business days to respond. To avoid RESPA violations, you also must take at least one of several actions in response to your request.

    These actions include:

    • correcting your account, crediting any late charges or penalties, and notifying you of the corrections in writing
    • providing a full explanation in writing of why the account is correct and not in error
    • providing a full explanation in writing of why the desired information cannot be located and the request carried out at this time.

     

    All of the written explanations or corrections must also include full name, phone number, address, and employer of the person who received and acted on your request to the servicer.


    If the servicer fails to respond in a timely manner or not at all, you could recoup damages for the RESPA violations. These compensations can include and are not limited to:

    • any actual damages that you incurred
    • additional damages under $2000 from a pattern or practice of servicer noncompliance
    • attorney fees and costs

     

    Why Use RESPA during Foreclosure?

    Why should you use RESPA if your home is being threatened with foreclosure? Simply put, RESPA gives you the ability to gain important information about your mortgage and your account that you can use to protect your home, settle your account, or otherwise advocate for your best interests in or out of court. You should use this law if you believe that your account includes wrong or fraudulent information, if mistakes have been made about your record of payments, or if you believe that other servicer violations exist.

    This law gives you the opportunity to identify and get more clarification on those servicer violations as well as learn other key details that you can use to either get caught up on your mortgage or point out why the mortgagor has no right to pursue foreclosure against your home. While no legal means of stopping foreclosure with RESPA exists in any of the 50 states, this law can force the servicer to reveal information about your account that you might not have had access to before being notified of the foreclosure.

    Facing the threat of being foreclosed on puts you in jeopardy of losing your home and the security you have worked for years to establish. You do not have to go into the foreclosure process without the information you need to protect and advocate for yourself.

    Thanks to RESPA, you can now demand in writing that your mortgage servicer clarify your account and provide to you in writing details that you need to know about your account. This law gives you the opportunity to correct wrongful information, cure your account, and take action to stop you from losing your home.

    Meet Your Attorney

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    Armine Singh

    Armine Singh is the Managing Attorney at JT Legal Group. Armine has defended hundreds of homeowners from foreclosure through successful real estate litigation defense...

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