Florida residents who believe they suffered from shoddy foreclosure practices have through Monday to apply for a free case review that could net them up to $125,000 if wrongdoing is found.
The program, which is overseen by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, began in November 2011 with an estimated 4 million eligibility letters mailed nationwide.
As of late September, just 3.8 percent of Floridians who were sent letters about their eligibility for the review have applied.
Cases are eligible for review if the foreclosure was on a primary residence in some stage of foreclosure during 2009 and 2010. The foreclosure had to have been handled by one of 24 banks or mortgage servicers named in consent orders crafted in response to findings of foreclosure deficiencies. The affected servicers can be found at independentforeclosurereview.com.
Problems contacting borrowers who may have been evicted from foreclosed homes, as well as borrower fatigue in applying for aid programs probably contributed to the limited response, some foreclosure defense attorneys said.
“A lot of these homeowners have been promised a lot of things in the past that were never fulfilled,” said attorney Ron Kaniuk, of Sachs Sax Caplan in Boca Raton. “It’s the law of diminishing returns. Once you are disappointed a few times, you stop filling stuff out.”
The Independent Foreclosure Review is separate from the $25 billion attorneys general settlement reached in February.
Nationwide, the return rate of borrowers responding to eligibility letters was about 5.3 percent through Sept. 27. Since then, an additional 121,677 borrowers have applied nationwide, said Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The original deadline to apply for the review was April 30. It was pushed back to July 31 and then Dec. 31.
Reviewers are looking for several problems including failure to put a homeowner on a permanent loan modification after he or she successfully completed a trial period, foreclosing on a borrower while he or she was current on payments under a loan modification, and not providing a borrower with proper notification during a foreclosure.
Remediation to borrowers can include credit fixes, reimbursement of improperly charged fees, and lump-sum payments of between $500 and $125,000.
For more information about the Independent Foreclosure Review, call 1-888-952-9105.