The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has launched a website to assist homeowners who benefited from a $2.7 million settlement with four national banks to resolve claims of unlawful foreclosures in the state, according to an announcement from Healey's office.
The website will provide assistance to eligible homeowners who are looking to start anew by clearing property titles, thus allowing them to either refinance or sell their properties.
"Through this settlement we are empowering residents who may have been unable to refinance their mortgage loans or sell their properties because of these unlawful foreclosures," Healey said. "This website enables consumers to file online complaints and have their title issues reviewed by the banks in a single process."
The settlement was reached between four banks (Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Wells Fargo) and the AG in January 2015 in Suffolk Superior Court to resolve claims that the banks lacked legal authority to foreclosure on homes when they did not own the mortgages on those homes. Under Massachusetts law, the bank or foreclosing party must either be the mortgage holder on record or hold the mortgage through valid assignment prior to publishing the notice of foreclosure sale.
As part of the settlement, the four banks agreed to pay a combined $2.7 million to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Of that money, $700,000 was allocated to the AG's Local Consumer Aid Fund, and the remaining $2 million was paid to the Commonwealth's General Fund. The banks also agreed to provide non-monetary assistance to help borrowers resolve their title defects that resulted from improper foreclosures conducted after December 1, 2007. The bank will review each complaint and determine if the title defect resulted from a void foreclosure, and if so, the bank will provide the documentation to facilitate the clearing of the title so that the homeowner may either pursue refinancing or sell the property.
GMAC Mortgage, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012, was named as one of the defendants in the case; the AG's office is continuing to negotiate a settlement with them, according to Healey's announcement.