Can A Bank Break a Promise?

(WSVN) - South Floridians are left suddenly stunned by their mortgage payments. They say their mortgage companies are breaking an important promise. It’s tonight’s edition of Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

As you ride through any neighborhood, they are just houses … unless one is your house.

Rodrigo Escobar, mortgage payments deferred?: “My children grew up here. It’s more than a house. It’s everything.”

As Irma approached, Rodrigo and his family left South Florida. They returned to find their home was fine. Their yard, a mess…

Rodrigo Escobar: “The fence fell down in the back, trees went down front and back, so all of this had to be cut and repaired and paid for out of pocket.”

As the repair and clean up bills rolled in, money was tight for a lot of people. And then South Floridians watching Help Me Howard saw the break they needed regarding their house payments.

Malloy Evans, Fannie Mae: “And then they can immediately put you into this forbearance period that allows you to take a break from making your mortgage payments.”

Rodrigo contacted his mortgage company, hoping to get that break from that $1,700 a month house payment.

Rodrigo Escobar: “And they told me they were aware of the situation, a lot of people were calling, and that they would give me until January.”

Rodrigo would not have to make a mortgage payment for four months and those payments would be moved to the end of his mortgage. Nothing was put in writing, but each month Rodrigo would call to confirm their agreement.

Rodrigo Escobar: “I made at least three calls to confirm this.”

Then January rolled around, and Rodrigo was nearly knocked off his feet.

Rodrigo Escobar: “And I called to make my first payment and they said my property is in default … because I owed them $7,800.”

Rodrigo reminded them he was promised those four house payments were being moved to the end of his mortgage. Plus, he said, he didn’t have $7,800. The response?

Rodrigo Escobar: “They were going to try to foreclose on me unless I paid the lump sum.”

Rodrigo is now in a mortgage mess, worried he may lose not just his house, but his family’s home.

Rodrigo Escobar: “I would just give it to them gladly but don’t have it. It’s been hard to get back on my feet.”

Well Howard, we told people banks were giving them a break on their mortgage after Irma. Can they now say, “never mind?”

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “No they cannot. If your loan is serviced by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, federal law requires them to allow you to defer up to one year of mortgage payments to the end of the mortgage if your home is inside a disaster area, which South Florida was.”

I first contacted Select Portfolio Servicing, which handles Rodrigo’s loan. I got nowhere, so I got in touch with the International Firm Credit Suisse, which owns Select Portfolio.

They were remarkable. Within minutes, they responded to me. Then, Rodrigo says they told him this was a misunderstanding and his payments were deferred to the end of his mortgage.

He does have to pay the property taxes and insurance for those months, but Credit Suisse was nice enough to set up a payment plan for that.

Howard Finkelstein: “If your mortgage company refuses to follow the law, go up their corporate ladder and complain. If that doesn’t work, contact Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.”

Rodrigo Escobar: “I don’t have to worry about losing my home.”

Rodrigo has peace of mind again after that call to Help Me Howard.

Rodrigo Escobar: “I am just very happy about the end result, and very happy Help Me Howie got involved.”

Rodrigo called us Help Me Howie … has a different ring to it…

Now Howard mentioned how to fight back with a mortgage company. If that fails, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a government agency that makes sure you are treated fairly.

A problem got you mortgaging your future? Don’t defer fighting back. Contact us. ‘Cause we are money in the bank that you don’t have to pay us back.


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

File a complaint with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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