Opening statements in the class action lawsuit against Nationstar Mortgage began this afternoon. In question is the lender’s actions when a lender becomes delinquent by as few as two payments. It’s a case we’ve been following more than a year. Jesse Jones will have the latest on today’s statements at 5:15. Click the video for a previous story about the case.
Often when there’s a home break-in, victims have no idea who’s behind the crime. Imagine learning it’s your mortgage lender. I found it’s happening to thousands of people in Washington state but with the help of an attorney, they’re fighting back.
It’s difficult enough to sort through your deceased parents memories. John Bund is doing that and fighting the mortgage lender for their home.
“I’m really angry about it,” said Bund.
Bund was locked out of the home after he told the bank he would miss two payments. He caught up and was still locked out.
“There’s a lot of things they’ve not done that really are in violation of Washington state law,” said Bund.
The case is now being heard in front of the state Supreme Court. The accused lender is Nationstar Mortgage and court documents show Bund isn’t the only one fighting the lender. As many as 3,600 people in Washington state have been locked out of their home for being less than two months late on their payments.
Clay Gatens is the lawyer taking on Nationstar. He said the lender is illegally taking possession of a property without a foreclosure and sale first. State law states home owners have every right to the possession of their property until the bank actually forecloses.
“In a lot of cases, what is so frustrating is the bank is actively in communication with the borrower about a short sale or a deed in lieu. And they’re talking to them daily or every other day and they’re sending them letters and proposals and at the same time, the next day they’re out there changing the locks,” said Gatens.
Buddy Pitts, the son of 74-year-old Deanna Jones, said his mother was confused and fell victim to an aggressive contractor hired by Nationstar who locked her out. Pitts believes the situation played a part in his mother’s death.
“They think they’re above the law,” exclaimed Pitts.
Attorney Gatens argues that the lock-outs are systematic and illegal because they haven’t foreclosed on the home yet, separating owners from their possessions.
“It’s not that they’ve gotten some kind of report that says their collateral is in jeopardy. They have an internal system that says, once you’re 30 days late, we kick off the process,” explained Gatens.
Nationstar argues that changing the locks is just temporary. The bank says it leaves a phone number for homeowner to call to get access so it’s not taking full possession.
“It’s very much a David and Goliath situation because you have a small homeowner who is faced with the actions of a bank that is more or less a process and not a human and they can’t get any action or dialog,” explained Gatens.
In the case of Laura Jordan, court documents show after being two months late, she was locked out and called the number left on the door. Instead of giving her the code, the representative said, “put your home on the market. See if it’s able to be sold.” Nationstar eventually let Laura enter the home and a few months later she met Gatens and he began working on class action lawsuit against the lender.