Banks have been foreclosing on American homes nationwide for nearly three years now and sometimes unfairly. Now they’re getting a taste of their own medicine.
Earlier this year, Patrick Rodgers, a music promoter from Philadelphia, successfully sued Wells Fargo Home Mortgage after it failed to respond to his inquiries about his expensive home insurance premiums. He used the federal banking regulations created under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and sent Wells Fargo a qualified written request (QWR) which the bank has to acknowledge in 20 business days and respond to in 60 days under RESPA.
After Rodgers won his case in small claims court, Wells Fargo failed to pay him the $1,078 cash award and fees. So the Philadelphia sheriff’s office ordered a levy on a local Wells Fargo Branch.
“Ten days after I paid the $84 fee, a Deputy Sheriff went to the Wells Fargo branch and inventoried all of their possessions – office furniture, computers, fax machines – and placed it under Sheriff’s Levy,” Rodgers wrote on a blog. “I hadn’t gotten anything from Wells Fargo yet, so I paid the $50.00 fee and filled out the paperwork for a Sheriff’s Sale.”
Shortly thereafter, Wells Fargo cut Rodgers the $1,078 check.
A couple in Naples, Fla. managed to gain a similar measure of revenge against Bank of America. Warren Nyerges and his wife, Maureen, paid $165,000 in cash to purchase their house from Bank of America and never borrowed against it, according to the New York Times. However, in a case of mistaken identity, the bank began foreclosure proceedings on their home.
The couple took the bank to court, won their case and got a judgment for $2,500 in attorney’s fees. However, the bank, like Wells Fargo, was slow on paying so on June 3 the couple’s lawyer showed up at a local branch with sheriff’s deputies to begin cleaning out the building.
“I’m either leaving the building with a whole bunch of furniture, or a check or cash or something,” the attorney, Todd Allen, told Naples News.
Bank of America paid the couple $5,700 in fees and other damages.
Bank of America apologized to the couple but Allen told Naples News that the bank is still on the hook for his attorney fees.
“If Bank of America doesn’t pay it, we’ll be back doing this again,” he said.
Both cases provide a lesson that regular citizens can have a say in how their banks treat them. As Rodgers said, if he was able to get this far, anyone can.
“I’m not a lawyer. I have no legal training. Nothing I wrote should be taken as legal advice, (and you shouldn’t send a letter like this unless you feel you really have a case),” Rodgers wrote. “But that’s the beauty of the story, isn’t it? If I did it, chances are, you can too.”