WASHINGTON — (RealEstateRama) — The Justice Department today announced that PHH Mortgage Corporation (PHH) has agreed to pay $750,000 to six servicemembers to resolve allegations that it violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) by unlawfully foreclosing on their homes without obtaining the required court orders.
“Our men and women in uniform deserve to be able to focus on their job of keeping our country safe without worrying about losing their homes to an unlawful foreclosure,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the rights of our servicemembers from unlawful conduct.”
“The brave men and women who serve in our nation’s armed forces frequently are required to deploy and serve overseas with little notice,” U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said. “This Office remains resolute in its commitment to honor their personal sacrifices when they do so by ensuring that servicemembers’ rights will be protected, as the law requires, whenever duty calls. This agreement ensures that servicemembers will be compensated for the damages they suffered when their homes were improperly foreclosed upon while they were serving our country.”
The SCRA prohibits foreclosing on the home of a servicemember during active military service and one year thereafter without a court order if the mortgage originated prior to the servicemember’s period of military service.
PHH is one of the United States’ largest mortgage loan servicers, operating nationwide. The New Jersey-based company also originates, sells and subservices residential mortgage loans.
The Department launched an investigation, which was handled jointly by the Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, after it received a complaint in May 2016 through the Department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative. The Department’s investigation revealed that PHH foreclosed on six homes of SCRA-protected servicemembers in violation of the SCRA between 2010 and 2012.
The agreement resolves a suit filed today by the United States in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
The agreement requires PHH to pay $125,000 to each servicemember whose home was unlawfully foreclosed upon. The agreement also requires PHH to provide training to its staff to ensure that servicemembers do not face unlawful foreclosures in the future, and to notify the Department of future complaints regarding servicemembers’ rights.
The Department’s enforcement of the SCRA is conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section and U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country. The SCRA provides protections for servicemembers in areas such as evictions, rental agreements, security deposits, pre-paid rent, civil judicial proceedings, installment contracts, credit card interest rates, mortgage interest rates, mortgage foreclosures, automobile leases, life insurance, health insurance and income tax payments. Since 2011, the Department has obtained over $468 million in monetary relief for servicemembers through its enforcement of the SCRA. For more information about the Department’s SCRA enforcement, please visit www.servicemembers.gov.
Servicemembers and their dependents who believe that their rights under the SCRA have been violated should contact the nearest Armed Forces Legal Assistance Program Office. Office locations may be found at http://legalassistance.law.af.mil/content/locator.php.
Individuals who believe their civil rights have been violated in the District of New Jersey may also file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey at: http://www.justice.gov/usao-nj/civil-rights-enforcement/complaintor may call the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Civil Rights Complaint Hotline at (855) 281-3339.