So my proposal is that in the future, mortgages should have a preplanned workout and it should be automatic. As home values fall, the principal should be reduced. Now, this is something that mortgage companies don’t particularly like because it sounds like they’ll lose a lot of money in that circumstance, but I argue that we can price that in.
Lately I have been teaching courses with names such as “Global and Economic Justice” and “History, Impacts and Regulation of Consumer Credit” instead of “Bankruptcy,” “Secured Transactions” and “Chapter 11 Reorganizations.” So I have been reading different books and listening to different speakers. A lecture I attended recently by Xav Briggs here brought to my mind a couple of books that I use in one of my courses, “Borrow” and “Debtor Nation” both written by Louis Hyman. In many ways Hyman’s books remind me of “Credit Card Nation” the outstanding and “ahead of its time” book by Robert Manning which I used extensively when I created my consumer credit course in 2002.
Over the last few years, the US Department of Justice has reached settlements with nearly every major lender with regard to the lending procedures for FHA (Federal Housing Administration) loans. The legal basis for the settlements were alleged violations of the False Claims Act. The total recovery is about $3 billion dollars.
The legal aid group Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE) has taken a novel approach to using the False Claims Act by initiating a lawsuit against U.S. Bank. The case claims that U.S. Bank collected payments from the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) for FHA-backed loans deemed to be in default, rather than meeting its obligations to work out options with the borrowers.
ABLE relied on the information it obtained from customers and borrowers of U.S. Bank in bringing its suit. Borrowers, such as Mr. Hayward Ferrell, obtained mortgages from U.S. Bank guaranteed by the FHA. If a borrower defaults on an FHA loan, the government agency makes payments to the loan-issuing bank to make the bank whole. The FHA requires, however, that these banks make an effort to work with their borrowers to mitigate loss — so the government can limit expenditures on these loans.
In this lawsuit, ABLE has taken the position that U.S. Bank failed to take the necessary steps to work with borrowers like Mr. Ferrell to prevent them from defaulting on their mortgages. Instead, the group claims that the bank defaulted Mr. Ferrell and other borrowers between 2001 and 2011 so that it could make false claims for payment to FHA, receiving at least $2.37 billion in payments on these claims.