The New York attorney general Monday announced he will sue Bank of America and Wells Fargo, claiming their mortgage servicing units are violating terms of the National Mortgage Settlement.
The banks, along with Ally Financial/GMAC, JP Morgan Chase and Citibank, reached the 2012 settlement deal with 49 state attorneys general and the Department of Justice. The settlement included a $25 billion payout, mandated mortgage modifications and required specific service standards.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a release his office has documented 339 violations of standards – 210 violations by Wells Fargo, and 129 by Bank of America – that require the banks to follow a modification processing timeline.
“The five mortgage servicers that signed the National Mortgage Settlement are legally required to take specific, rigorous and enforceable steps to protect homeowners,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
“Wells Fargo and Bank of America have flagrantly violated those obligations, putting hundreds of homeowners across New York at greater risk of foreclosure. I intend to use every tool available to my office to hold these companies accountable under the terms of the National Mortgage Settlement,” he said.
The settlement agreement allows any party to bring an enforcement action in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following a 21-day notice to a monitoring committee set up to enforce the agreement.
During the notification period, the committee may choose to pursue the litigation on behalf of the party using the committee’s own authority under the settlement, or they may defer action. Following a deferral, the complaining party may pursue the claim on their own after waiting an additional 21 days.
On Friday, Schneiderman sent a letter to committee monitor Joseph Smith, and to each member of the Monitoring Committee, notifying them of his intention to bring a legal claim if the committee does not act. The letter included written complaints against Bank of America and Wells Fargo, and what Schneiderman said was a significant amount of backup documentation demonstrating the severity of the violations.
He said he intends to ask the court to impose injunctive relief and to require strict compliance under the settlement.
“It is beyond frustrating,” Megan Faux, acting director of Legal Services NYC Brooklyn, said in Schneiderman’s release. “We have many clients who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure simply because Wells Fargo failed to properly review complete loan modification packages sitting in their office for months.
“Accountability to the servicing standards is essential to ensuring homeowners have a fair opportunity to negotiate an affordable mortgage and ending the housing crisis.”