Last year, Jesse Jones showed you how some local homeowners were locked out of their house after missing mortgage payments — even though the mortgage companies didn’t take possession of the house.
On Thursday, the Washington State Supreme Court said that wasn’t right.
Opening statements in the class action lawsuit against Nationstar Mortgage began when the mortgage company started breaking-in the homes of homeowners due to missing mortgage payments.
“Washington law prohibits lenders from taking possession of property prior to foreclosure,” the Supreme Court opinion read. “Therefore, the entry provisions are in direct conflict with state law and are unenforceable.”
Before the ruling of the Supreme Court, John Bund presented this case in hopes to fight the mortgage lender after being locked out of his home. After explaining to the bank that he will miss two mortgage payments as a result of his parent’s death, he caught up and was still locked out.
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.
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,” said 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.
In the case, 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.
The ruling of the state Supreme court is stating Nationstar Mortgage is unlawful and must foreclose a home before locking out and removing the possessions of homeowners.