Mass. Banks Accused Of Violating Foreclosure Laws

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Many banks are still violating basic legal requirements when foreclosing on properties in Massachusetts, according to attorneys who represent homeowners fighting to save their homes.

Lenders do not always adhere to a 2007 state law, amended in 2010, that provides homeowners 150 days to catch up on missed mortgage payments before a foreclosure can begin, they say.

Under the law, banks and mortgage companies are required to send "right-to-cure" notices to delinquent borrowers that provide basic information about the foreclosure process, including whom to contact and who holds the mortgage.

Eloise Lawrence, an attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau in Cambridge, said she has helped more than two dozen homeowners overturn their foreclosures in Lynn alone based on problems with right-to-cure notices.

It is especially important that lenders follow the letter of the law in Massachusetts, a state where foreclosures do not go before a judge for final review, she told The Boston Globe.

"The bank can take your house without ever going to court, and so properly notifying homeowners of their rights is a critical safeguard against wrongful foreclosures," she said.

Some courts interpret Massachusetts law differently than banks do, said Jon Skarin, senior vice president of the Massachusetts Bankers Association. Lenders send tens of thousands of such delinquency notices statewide annually without problems, he said.

"The number that have been successfully challenged is very small compared to the amount of notices that get sent out," Skarin said.

Housing attorneys seeking to overturn foreclosures have been bolstered by a May 2012 Suffolk Superior Court decision that supported their claims. Justice Elizabeth Fahey ruled in favor of a Revere homeowner who contested her foreclosure based on a faulty right-to-cure notice.

This program aired on August 5, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.