Turning the Tables on the Banks

By July 16, 2011House Repossession

UK-repossessions-on-the-increaseThe injustice of the banking system has been in the spotlight for a few years now and it’s been said that bank workers are now less popular than solicitors and estate agents; that’s going some. So, when a story about a heroic couple turning the tables on the banks hits the tabloids, it’s heart-warming to say the least.  So heart-warming, in fact, that the solicitor representing the couple was moved to use the phrase ‘sweet justice’ when describing the case.

If you are typical of millions of others then lurking quietly in the back of your mind is the fear that just one bad throw of life’s dice could see the house you’ve worked so diligently to turn into a home could be taken away from you by the banks.  This story is for you; sit back and enjoy.

Turning the Tables on the Banks: The Facts

It’s 2009 and retired policeman Warren Nyerges and his wife Maureen bought a £100,000 house on a Florida development.  They paid in cash, no mortgage required.

One year later, in February 2010, the Bank of America initiated repossession proceedings against the couple; this despite the fact that the couple had paid for the property up front and had no debt relating to it.

It was obvious that if the couple Warren and Maureen fought the action they would win; which is exactly what happened.  How could it be otherwise when there was no outstanding debt on the property?

But taking legal action is just as expensive in America as it is most other places and, despite winning their case, the Nyerges were left owing £1,500 in legal fees.

As you would expect, the couple requested the bank make recompense for this amount; after all, it was the bank’s mistake that precipitated the debt.  However, even in the face of repeated requests, the bank failed to pay out.

Turning the Tables on the Banks: The Fallout

Quite understandably, the couple was more than a little annoyed by the bank’s seemingly cavalier attitude to their plight.  They took the bank to court in an attempt to get their recompense – and they won.  The court ordered the bank to pay up.

Five months and many phone calls and letters later and still the Nyeges were £1,500 down.  So they, quite reasonably in the circumstances, took out a foreclosure order against the bank.

When interviewed by CBS News, the couple’s solicitor, Todd Allen, commented,

“They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated.”

And so it was that, accompanied by two policemen and a moving van, Mr Allen called at the bank to collect desks, chairs, computers – and cash from the tellers’ drawers – to reimburse the Warren and Maureen for their out-of-pocket expenses.

The local media reported that within the hour the bank manager produced a check for around £3,515.11 to cover the couple’s estimated expenses thus far.  In a statement to the local newspaper, the bank apologized, saying,

“We apologise to Mr Nyerges that there was a delay in receiving the funds. The original request went to an outside attorney who is no longer in business.”

Turning the Tables on the Banks: The Relevance to the UK

A story to bring a smile to the face of most people’s faces in these post-bank-originated recession days; but, you may be thinking, how relevant is this story to us here in the UK?

Based on figures for the first three months of 2011, by the end of the year as many as 40,000 people will have experienced, or be in the process experiencing, repossession. In May of this year, Sky News reported that 9,100 UK residents had lost their homes to the banks.

of repossession In the first three months of 2011 some 9,100 Britons lost their homes as banks repossessed them — a position as many as 40,000 people could find themselves in by the end of the year. Some calculations have 90% of homeowners at risk of repossession if interest rates rise; this chilling prediction is based on the tide of variable interest rate mortgages that has overtaken the property market.  It might seem a good idea now, when interest rates are at an historic low, to take out a variable mortgage – after all the initial repayments are going to be very affordable, but what happens when, as must inevitably happen, interest rates begin to rise again?

Turning the Tables on the Banks: The Significance to Every Homeowner

So, the Nyerges’ story was funny and heartwarming – it would make a marvelous premise for a movie – but what is its point?

The point is: repossession and the risk of repossession haven’t gone away; in fact it remains a real concern to UK homeowners.

The message is: if you have any concerns whatsoever, no matter how remote the risk might appear, we are strongly advising you to take action now.  There are people out there who will talk to you free of charge; you can contact them via the links given below.

After all, while the Nyerges’ story is good and heartwarming, if you listen very hard you can hear the nation mutter under its collective breath, “Only in America.”

Turning the Tables on the Banks: Organisations that can Help

Citizens Advice

Phone 084444 111 444

Shelter

Phone: 0808 800 4444

The National Debtline

Phone: 0800 808 4000