A U.S. District Court filed an order to resolve the department’s Fair Housing Act claims against defendants accused of discriminating against Hispanic homeowners. The lawsuit accused the defendants of engaging in predatory and discriminatory behavior that caused multiple homeowners to lose their homes.
What does this mean for Florida homeowners?
Reason for the lawsuit
The Department of Justice said that the defendants used Spanish-language advertisements that made false promises to reduce mortgage payments by 50% to target Hispanic homeowners. The defendants also made these claims to several hundred Hispanic homeowners in their offices and promised lower payments if they paid thousands in upfront fees plus an additional monthly fee of up to $550.
The department further accused the defendants of instructing these homeowners to stop communicating with lenders and stop paying their mortgages. The defendants then failed to secure the promised mortgage modifications which led to many homeowners losing their homes to foreclosure.
The court ordered the defendants to pay $4,595,000 in compensation to the people harmed by the defendants’ fraudulent representations. The defendants must also pay a civil penalty to the United States. The majority of the judgments are currently suspended due to the defendant’s inability to pay; however, the court is requiring the defendants to provide updated financial statements for each of the next five years. If the court finds that the defendants misrepresented their financial position, the court will reinstate the judgments.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against anyone based on color, race or national origin. People may report violations of this Act to the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination tip line or submit a report online.