Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch has joined with 50 other attorneys general and other federal and state agencies to reach an $86.3 million settlement with Nationstar Mortgage, the country’s fourth-largest mortgage servicer.
“I am pleased to join my colleagues in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to hold Nationstar Mortgage accountable for negligent and careless actions against their borrowers,” Fitch said in a statement. “I will continue to work with partners across the country to protect Mississippi consumers from predatory, deceptive and unscrupulous business practices.”
The consent judgment resolves allegations that Nationstar, which conducts business as “Mr. Cooper,” violated consumer protection laws during its servicing of mortgage loans. The settlement provides restitution for a variety of harms that were identified in the investigation.
Thousands of borrowers had problems when their loans were transferred to Nationstar, leading to foreclosure in some circumstances. The consent judgment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, provides approximately $79.2 million in relief affecting 55,814 loans nationally. It covers conduct by Nationstar occurring from Jan. 1, 2011, until Dec. 31, 2017.
The consent judgment also requires Nationstar to follow a detailed set of rules, or “servicing standards,” in how it handles certain mortgage loans. These servicing standards are more comprehensive than existing law and will be in place for three years starting Jan. 1, 2021.
Depending on the type of transgression, affected borrowers will be eligible for $250 to $840. A settlement administrator will send a claim form to eligible borrowers in 2021. Nationstar has already provided some of the relief outlined in the settlement.
The agreement also requires Nationstar to conduct audits and provide audit results to a committee of states to ensure compliance with the settlement. The lawsuit alleged several unlawful acts and practices by Nationstar, including:
- failing to properly oversee and implement the transfer of mortgage loans
- failing to appropriately identify loans with pending loan modification applications when a loan was being transferred to Nationstar for servicing
- failing to timely and accurately apply payments made by certain borrowers
- threatening foreclosure and conveying conflicting messages to certain borrowers engaged in loss mitigation
- failing to properly process borrowers’ applications for loan modifications
- failing to properly review and respond to borrower complaints
- failing to make timely escrow disbursements, including the failure to timely remit property tax payments
- failing to timely terminate borrowers’ private mortgage insurance
- collecting monthly modified payment amounts on certain loans where the amounts charged for principal and interest exceed the principal and interest amount contained in the trial plan agreement.
The settlement was signed by attorneys general from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The AGs negotiated the settlement with the state mortgage regulators and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which filed separate settlement documents. The partners also collaborated with the U.S. Trustee Program, a component within the Department of Justice that seeks to promote the efficiency and protect the integrity of the bankruptcy system. The USTP is finalizing a separate agreement with Nationstar to address historical servicing issues impacting borrowers in bankruptcy.