The Department of Housing and Urban Development has announced charges against a Redwood, California-based company called The House Lawyer (THL). HUD announced the charge against owners and employers of The House Lawyer in a press release on the HUD official site on April 30, 2021.
HUD alleges The House Lawyer violated Fair Housing Act laws, “by targeting Hispanic homeowners with illegal and unfair mortgage modification services”.
Among the issues in this Fair Housing Act case, HUD charges the company with collecting fees from Hispanic borrowers “for loan modification services prior to the completion of those services, in violation of California law, while encouraging them to withhold their mortgage payments, putting them at risk of foreclosure”.
Fair Housing Act law forbids discrimination against people because of their national origin.
That federal law includes a prohibition against targeting people of their national origin in residential real estate-related transactions and selling unfair or fraudulent loan products aimed at a specific national origin.
HUD’s charges include allegations that homeowners initially were targeted for ads about the “loan modification” service on a Spanish-language radio station.
THL agents allegedly provided inaccurate information “about the application requirements, procedures and standards for review for loan modification requests,”.
Furthermore, HUD states that homeowners were advised to stop making mortgage payments withheld their mortgage payments.
“For many families, homeownership represents the culmination of a dream, and the realization of that dream shouldn’t be put in jeopardy by unscrupulous actors and unlawful practices,” said Jeanine Worden, HUD’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, who was quoted in the press release.
She adds, “Today’s action reaffirms HUD’s commitment to ensuring that no family is saddled with fraudulent mortgage products that threaten their ability to stay in their home because of their nationality.”
As we have reminded readers in past articles like these, sometimes the only way to stop future discrimination is for the victims of current housing discrimination to come forward and report the violators to HUD.
That was true in this instance–the case came to HUD’s attention, “when multiple Hispanic homeowners filed complaints with HUD alleging that they had been the victims of a loan modification scam”.
If you have experienced discrimination, file a complaint by contacting the HUD Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online at hud.gov/fairhousing.