Elk Valley Times

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Legal Aid helps homeowners

Posted on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

With support from the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, the Legal Aid Society has launched a new initiative to help Tennessee homeowners facing foreclosure and mortgage rescue scams.

The initiative is funded by a nationwide settlement between state attorneys general and major banks that engaged in questionable mortgage practices.

The LAS has successfully helped Tennessee families on mortgage and foreclosure problems for many years, but this new collaboration will expand its work in this field.

In announcing the effort, Nashville Legal Aid Society Attorney David Tarpley said, “We are excited to offer homeowners this service because many families who face foreclosure may find some relief under new and existing laws. We also look forward to helping those who are victims of fraudulent mortgage rescue scams.”

LAS will continue helping people like Mrs. Green (not her real name) who, after being ill and out of work, fell behind on home mortgage payments. She applied for a home mortgage loan modification. For nearly a year, Mrs. Green’s mortgage company claimed to be reviewing her Home Affordable Modification Program application, but would periodically ask her to send in a new application, which she always did.

While her application was still under review and with no decision made on her request for a change, the mortgage company foreclosed. The mortgage company refused to stop the foreclosure sale and finish its review of her request. With Tarpley’s help, Mrs. Green filed suit to stop the foreclosure. She got a mortgage modification that she could afford. Mrs. Green’s home was saved, and she is making regular payments she can afford.

Tarpley added that the new initiative will allow Legal Aid Society to help some families who have incomes higher than its usual eligibility limits. He also stressed that Legal Aid Society can give homeowners only legal advice and representation, not money to help on mortgage payments.

“We are proud that the Tennessee Attorney General was active in this national lawsuit against major banks, and we commend the Attorney General for supporting local legal offices to continue helping individual Tennessee homeowners.”

The Legal Aid Society has offices in Nashville, Clarksville, Gallatin, Murfreesboro, Columbia, Tullahoma, Cookeville and Oak Ridge. Homeowners who need legal help on a mortgage problem can call their local office or a central toll-free number, 800-238-1443, which will connect them to their local office.

The LAS gives free civil legal help to people who have nowhere else to turn. It is funded by grants from the U.S. Legal Services Corporation, local United Ways and other public and private sources.