SEATTLE – The Washington State Attorney General's Office has settled a case with a trustee company formerly doing business in Washington for failing to comply with the state's laws governing foreclosure trustees.
In Washington state, foreclosure trustees are legally required to be neutral parties with local offices, available to borrowers during the foreclosure process, and willing to postpone a foreclosure when they deem it appropriate. Trustees must provide accurate information about how homeowners can stop their foreclosure, how much they need to pay to reinstate the loan, and to whom the money is owed.
A lawsuit filed last year by the Attorney General’s Office accused Bank of America-owned foreclosure trustee ReconTrust of not following these requirements.
ReconTrust didn’t have an office in Washington. The company’s illegal practices, said Attorney General Rob McKenna, made it “difficult, if not impossible for borrowers who might have a shot at saving their homes to stop those foreclosures.” In its lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office also said the company’s notices failed to identify the owner of the loan and provided confusing and contradictory information about what a borrower must do to stop a foreclosure
Assistant Attorney General James Sugarman, who spearheaded the lawsuit for the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, adds that homeowners who have a legitimate reason to stop a foreclosure have a difficult time doing so even when trustees and loan servicers follow the law. However, when trustees ignore requirements such as identifying the actual owner of the loan, providing a local address and phone number for the trustee, and accurately listing the amount of money needed to stop the foreclosure, then the chances of saving the home are even further reduced.
ReconTrust is no longer doing business in Washington state. It paid nearly $1.1 million to settle the Attorney General’s Office case as part of the previous national multistate mortgage settlement with Bank of America, and according to the terms of the settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle, it may only resume foreclosures here if it satisfies a long list of conditions imposed to protect borrowers.
“Our focus all along has been to make sure that those involved in lending and foreclosing follow the law,” said Sugarman. “That’s what today’s settlement accomplishes. ReconTrust will not be involved in foreclosures in Washington state unless it provides local offices where borrowers may go to resolve loan foreclosure problems.”
ReconTrust’s parent company, Bank of America, is one of the five mortgage lenders that agreed to a landmark $25 billion settlement this year with the states and the federal government. The settlement, the largest multistate consumer financial protection settlement in U.S. history, will provide as much as $25 billion in relief to distressed borrowers, including $648 million in benefits for Washington state homeowners, and direct payments to states and the federal government.
- Janelle Guthrie, Deputy Chief of Staff/Communications Director, (360) 586-0725