What is a request for information under RESPA for my mortgage?
“What is a request for information under RESPA for my mortgage?”
RESPA is the federal law that governs mortgages. If you think your mortgage company has done something wrong, or if they’re done something that is confusing to you and you don’t understand why they’re doing it, you can send a request for information. These are related to, but a bit different than a notice of error under RESPA.
Request for information is where you’re asking for information.
We see this all the time, where mortgage companies will send out contradictory letters, sometimes dated the same day. We had one where they said, “We’re going to foreclose on you in the future.” Same day, different letter said, “We’re not going to foreclose on you.” Then another letter on same date saying, “We’ve already foreclosed.”
It’s like, “What in the world is going on?”
This is where you can use a request for information.
Maybe your mortgage company denied a loan modification and they say, “We did it because you did not provide your tax return,” and you know you provided your tax return. You sent them proof that you’d submitted your tax return. You’ve got the FedEx envelope, whatever it may be.
(A notice of error would say, “Hey, you made a mistake, because I did submit my tax return. Go back and approve my loan modification now.”)
Request for information would say, “Why did you refuse to process my loan modification, and why did you claim that I did not send you my tax information when I really did? Here’s the proof, the tracking number, here’s the green card from certified mail,” whatever it is.
Here’s a couple of general rules for you.
One request per letter. Make each letter simple. Separate out your requests so that the mortgage company has no excuse.
If you send them a whole bunch of things all on one letter, mortgage company may say, “We got really confused because he asked us for 10 different things.” Which is a bogus reason, but they will make this excuse.
Take away that excuse.
Just send them one request per letter, so every letter stands on its own.
You must send your letters to the correct address for the letters to work.
The mortgage statement will tell you (usually it’s on the back side) that if you’re sending a notice of error, qualified written request or a request for information, use this address.
The mortgage company website should also tell you.
You can call your mortgage company to find out the correct address.
If they don’t give you a special address, you can send it to the normal address, but typically they have a special address.
You want to send your letters certified so you can prove they were delivered, otherwise the mortgage company (I can’t speak specifically of your company because I don’t know which company it is) however, the mortgage companies I deal with and that I sue all the time, if they get it and it’s not certified, they throw that letter in the garbage and say,”What letter did you send to us?”
You’ll say, “Oh, why yes, I sent you a dozen requests for information.”
They’re going to say, “We didn’t get it.”
We even have the mortgage companies argue this when we have the green cards back from certified mail. They say, “We didn’t sign for it,” (when we have their signature) so you can imagine what they do if it just comes with a first class stamp on the envelope. You could also do it overnight, you could do it FedEx.
Bottom line, you have to be able to prove what you sent and that it was received.
What does the mortgage company have to do when they get a request for information?
This is also true of a notice of error.
I’ll just say this.
You want to keep a signed copy of whatever you send, so that you have proof of not only delivery, but what it is that you sent to them.
This law that we’re going to talk about right here has to do with acknowledging your request for information. They have five business days to send you, when I say send you I mean to mail it, so it may take longer than that, but five business days to acknowledge receipt of your request for information. If you don’t get that, you might wonder, “Did they really get my letter?”
Again, you have some protection built in, because you sent it by certified mail.
30 business days after they receive your request for information, they have to respond to it. If you ask for documents, they have to give you the documents. You ask for information, they have to give you the information, unless it’s an improper request.
If it’s an improper request, they don’t have to give it to you, but they need to tell you why they believe it’s improper.
I’ll just say this, these companies are infamous for thinking everything is improper, even when it’s clearly set out in the law. Expect that they’ll say, “We could never give you (blank) document.”
It’s probably something you’re entitled to if it’s at all related to servicing.
Your loan, how much do you owe on it, payments received, loss mitigation, things like loan modification, maybe having to do with your insurance, or your escrow. All that sort of stuff, you can ask legitimate questions, for documents, and information.
What if they don’t respond?
You can get actual damages.
Compensatory damages, this includes mental anguish damages.
You can get statutory damages, that can be $2,000 per violation. We have some of these where we have sent out a total of maybe 30 or 40 letters, usually that’s in several waves of letter.
We send letters and they refuse to respond, so we send another set of letters, “Why did you refuse to respond to my previous version of this letter?” Maybe there’s new things that they’ve done. You start stacking up those damages. If they fail to acknowledge, that’s a violation. If they fail to respond, that’s a violation. It’s a very powerful tool to get their attention, because they may be responsible for a lot of damages to you by refusing to respond to your letters.
They could also be required to pay your attorneys their fees. If you sue in a federal court, obviously the mortgage company has to pay its own lawyers, but then if you’re successful, they may have to pay your lawyers, and that may be, for example, our rate at this time is $400 an hour.
If we’re in litigation and we spend 100 hours on the case, that’s a lot of money. We spend a 1,000 hours on the case, that’s a lot of money. What does this do for you? It encourages the mortgage companies to say, “Okay, you got us. You caught us breaking the law, and we don’t want to have to pay our lawyers and your lawyers and pay you, so let’s go ahead and settle this thing for a reasonable about.”
That’s what the smart ones do when they’ve been caught violating the law. There are some that are not so smart, and they want to just fight and fight and fight. They can pay the price for that when they do that. Keep in mind there are other laws that can apply.
Remember under RESPA there are notices of errors.
The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, FDCPA, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, those laws may apply as well, you may have state laws that apply.
While not the only tool, RESPA is a very powerful tool.
Request for information’s a very powerful part of RESPA, but you also have to look at other laws that may apply to you.
If you have questions about this, feel free to give us a call. If you live in Alabama, it’s 205-879-2447, or you can contact us by filling out this form. If you have just general comments on this video, feel free to put those below.
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