Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act Part 6

This is the final part of our multi-part series on protecting your rights through the Florida Fair Lending Act. We hope you have found this information useful. To check out the previous installments, check out the first, second, third, fourth, and fifth parts at their respective links here.

(13) LATE PAYMENT FEES.—A lender may not charge a late payment fee for a high-cost home loan except as provided in this subsection:

(a) A late payment fee may not be in excess of 5 percent of the amount of the payment past due.

(b) A late payment fee may only be assessed for a payment past due for 15 days or more.

(c) A late payment fee may not be charged more than once with respect to a single late payment. If a late payment fee is deducted from a payment made on the loan and such deduction causes a subsequent default on a subsequent payment, no late payment fee may be imposed for such default. If a late payment fee has been imposed once with respect to a particular late payment, no such fee shall be imposed with respect to any future payment which would have been timely and sufficient, but for the previous default.

This one is pretty clear. It limits late fees to five percent of the past-due payment. It forces lenders to wait until a payment is 15 days late before they can charge late fees. Also, it prevents them from “double-dipping” and charging you twice for the same missed payment.

(14) MODIFICATION OR DEFERRAL FEES.—A lender may not charge a borrower any fees or other charges to modify, renew, extend, or amend a high-cost home loan or to defer any payment due under the terms of a high-cost home loan on a minimum of one modification, renewal, extension, or deferral per each 12 months of the length of the loan.

Lenders cannot charge fees to modify a loan or to defer payments.

If your mortgage contains any of these dirty little tricks, contact a lawyer. You can gain substantial benefit from seeing the banks punished for breaking the law. The penalty for violating this law is the lender gives up the rights to any interest on the loan, meaning you only have to pay the original principal, as outlined below:

(1) Any person or the agent, officer, or other representative of any person committing a material violation of the provisions of this act shall forfeit the entire interest charged in the high-cost home loan or contracted to be charged or received, and only the principal sum of such high-cost home loan can be enforced in any court in this state, either at law or in equity.

Check your mortgage terms to ensure that your loan is on the up and up. If it is not, if your loan forces you into any of the aforementioned traps, know your rights and defend them.

Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act Part 5

This is part five of our multi-part series on protecting your rights during the mortgage process. The Florida Fair Lending Act, detailed in this series, is there to protect you from unscrupulous lenders. If you suspect your rights are being violated, call a lawyer for a consultation. You can check out the previous installments here, here, here and here.

(10) OPEN-ENDED LOANS.—A lender shall not make any loan as an open-ended loan in order to evade the provisions of this act unless such open-ended loans meet the definition in 12 C.F.R. s. 226.2(a)(20).

Essentially, what this means is a lender cannot define the end date of a loan as “when we feel like it.”

(11) RECOMMENDATION OF DEFAULT.—A lender shall not recommend or encourage default on an existing loan or other debt prior to and in connection with the closing or planned closing of a high-cost home loan that refinances all or any portion of such existing loan or debt.

This one speaks for itself. A lender cannot suggest you stop paying on your loan.

(12) PROHIBITED DOOR-TO-DOOR LOANS.—A high-cost home loan may not be made as a direct result of a potential or future lender or its representative offering or selling a high-cost home loan at the residence of a potential borrower without a prearranged appointment with the potential borrower or the expressed invitation of the potential borrower. This subsection does not apply to mail solicitations that may be received by the potential borrower.

A lender cannot “sell” mortgages door to door as one would encyclopedias, knives, or vacuum cleaners. Either you have to go to them, or you must make an appointment for them to come to you. If they just show up at your front door trying to sell you a mortgage, call the police.

Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act Part 4

This is part four of our multi-part series on protecting your rights during the mortgage process through knowledge of the Florida Fair Lending Act. For the previous parts, click here, here and here. Also, check back tomorrow for the next installment.

(8) DUE-ON-DEMAND CLAUSE.—A high-cost home loan may not contain a provision that permits the lender, in its sole discretion, to call or accelerate the indebtedness. This provision does not prohibit acceleration of the loan due to the borrower’s failure to abide by the terms of the loan, or due to fraud or material misrepresentation by the consumer in connection with the loan.

A lender cannot simply decide that you have to pay back everything you owe at once on a whim. They must prove that you violated the terms of the agreement or were engaged in some form of fraud in the mortgage process to call in the entire debt at once like this.

(9) REFINANCING WITHIN AN 18-MONTH PERIOD.—

(a) A lender, its affiliate, or an assignee shall not refinance any high-cost home loan to the same borrower within the first 18 months of the loan when the refinancing does not have a reasonable benefit to the borrower considering all of the circumstances, including, but not limited to, the terms of both the new and refinanced loans, the cost of the new loan, and the borrower’s circumstances.

(b) A lender or assignee shall not engage in acts or practices to evade this requirement, including a pattern or practice of arranging for the refinancing of the lender’s or assignee’s own loans by affiliated or unaffiliated lenders or modifying a loan agreement, whether or not the existing loan is satisfied and replaced by the new loan, and charging a fee.

A lender must wait a year and a half before refinancing your loan after writing one unless the refinance contains terms that are considerably more beneficial to you than the previous one. Some unscrupulous lenders were using this practice as a sort of bait and switch to change terms of a mortgage or simply just extend the existing one by refreshing the terms.

 

Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act Part 3

This is another in our multi-part series on protecting your rights against unscrupulous mortgage lenders through the Florida Fair Lending Act. Check out part one here, and part two here. If you believe your rights have been violated, check with a lawyer. Check back on Monday for the next installment.

(5) PREPAID PAYMENTS.—A high-cost home loan may not include terms under which more than two periodic payments required under the loan are consolidated and paid in advance from the loan proceeds provided to the borrower.

Lenders cannot make payments in advance from the proceeds of the loan. This tactic is common in other forms of financing, such as car or furniture financing where it is a useful sales tactic, but since it can leave borrowers short on funds they need to close on a home, the practice is illegal for mortgages.

(6) EXTENDING CREDIT WITHOUT REGARD TO THE PAYMENT ABILITY OF THE BORROWER.—A lender making a high-cost home loan shall not engage in any pattern or practice of extending high-cost home loans to borrowers based upon the borrowers’ collateral without regard to the borrowers’ ability to repay the loan, including the borrowers’ current and expected income, current obligations, and employment.

 

This is another practice that used to be shockingly common. Lenders would write up loans that their underwriters knew borrowers could not repay. They wrote loans far beyond what borrowers could afford, then blamed borrowers when they could not make payments. It is setting families up to fail and lose their homes.

(7) PAYMENTS TO A HOME CONTRACTOR.—A lender shall not make any payments to a contractor under a home improvement contract from amounts of a high-cost home loan other than:

(a) In the form of an instrument that is payable to the borrower or jointly to the borrower and the contractor; or

(b) At the election of the borrower by a third-party escrow agent in accordance with terms established in a written agreement signed by the borrower, the lender, and the contractor prior to the date of payment.

Lenders cannot make payments to contractors for work on a home without the borrower signing off on it or making some prior arrangement to set it up. There was a type of scam a while back contractors were being enlisted to help shady lenders facilitate fraud. This provision was put in place as a means to put a stop to that.

Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the first part of the actions mortgage lenders are prohibited from under the Florida Fair Lending Act. If your mortgage contains these terms, check with a lawyer about protecting your rights. Here is part two of this multiple part series. Check back tomorrow for more.

(2) DEFAULT INTEREST RATE.—A high-cost home loan may not provide for a higher interest rate after default on the loan. However, this prohibition does not apply to interest rate changes in a variable rate loan otherwise consistent with the provisions of the loan documents, provided the change in interest rate is not triggered by a default or the acceleration of the interest rate.

This item is fairly self explanatory. A mortgage cannot raise your interest rate because you default on the loan. There are exceptions for adjustable rate mortgages, but even they have to prove rate increases were not triggered by the default.

(3) BALLOON PAYMENTS.—A high-cost home loan having a term of less than 10 years may not contain terms under which the aggregate amount of the regular periodic payments would not fully amortize the outstanding principal balance. However, this prohibition does not apply when the payment schedule is adjusted to account for the seasonal or irregular income of the borrower or if the loan is a bridge loan.

Short-term mortgages must cover all of the debt in their payments. Leaving some of it to the end for one last (huge) payment is not legal.

(4) NEGATIVE AMORTIZATION.—A high-cost home loan may not contain terms under which the outstanding principal balance will increase at any time over the course of the loan because the regular periodic payments do not cover the full amount of the interest due

As before, loan payments must cover all interest and the required principal payment up to that point. If they defer interest and roll that into future payments by adding that deferred interest to your principal, they have broken the law. This practice was shockingly common around the mid-2000s, despite having been made illegal in 2002. If you have a loan from that time period and your payments keep growing, look out for this shady tactic.

Protecting Your Rights: Florida Fair Lending Act

When you get a mortgage, there are a number of things you need to keep an eye on. Of course the obvious ones, such as interest rate and payment structure are pretty well known. However, there are a number of things to look out for to protect your interests that you need to know if you have a mortgage in the state of Florida. These protections, known as the Florida Fair Lending Act outline a list of things your lender cannot do when writing the terms of your mortgage. Here are the prohibited items, and if you see any of these in the terms of your mortgage, get a lawyer immediately.

(1) PREPAYMENT PENALTIES.—

(a) A high-cost home loan may not contain terms that require a borrower to pay a prepayment penalty for paying all or part of the loan principal before the date on which the payment is due.

(b) Notwithstanding paragraph (a), a lender making a high-cost home loan may include in the loan contract a prepayment fee or penalty, for up to the first 36 months after the date of consummation of the loan, if:

1. The borrower has also been offered a choice of another product without a prepayment penalty.

2. The borrower has been given, at least 3 business days prior to the loan consummation, a written disclosure of the terms of the prepayment fee or penalty by the lender, including the benefit the borrower will receive for accepting the prepayment fee or penalty through either a reduced interest rate on the loan or reduced points or fees.
This one is pretty standard. If your loan has penalties for making payments early, the lender had to offer you an option for a loan without these penalties and they had to tell you about these penalties at least three days before you signed off on the loan. If they did not do both of these things, they have violated the law.

Check back tomorrow for the next part of this multi-part series.

Freegal Music and Movies at the Library

hernando county library photo

We have often touted the myriad services provided by the Hernando County Public Library. There is another that we would like to tell you about that you may very well have not heard of. Did you know you can get free music downloads and movie streaming courtesy of your local library? If not, you do now. The Hernando County Public Library has partnered with Freegal to offer these services to library members.

If you have a valid library card and do not have any outstanding fees due for overdue books or anything of the sort, then you can utilize this service. Of course, having a decent Internet connection is vital as well, but we are assuming that if you are reading this, you already have access of some sort. Obviously, streaming movies will require a better connection than downloading music will, so keep that in mind. The service can be used on home computers or on iOS or Android devices. Of course, the mobile versions require an app download.

The movie streaming on the service obviously does not have the kind selection one would expect from say Netflix or Amazon Prime or other such paid services, but there are some decent movies to be found. The service has some good concert videos, anime classics and children’s movies. Those are the highlights of the selection from what I have seen. You can watch up to three movies or TV episodes per week, which may not seem like much, but for free streaming can provide some quality entertainment for no cost.

The music service is the diamond in the rough. While saddled with similar restrictions as the video streaming, there is one major difference. You can download the music without any rights management software (DRM) hindering your useage of it. You can put it on your MP3 player, burn it to CD, put it on your iTunes collection, or whatever else you may want to do. They have a pretty good selection here too. I found plenty of albums released earlier this year, so unlike Amazon’s music streaming service, you get plenty of new titles and you can do what you please with them, for free.

Links to both the movie streaming and music download services can be found from the Hernando County Public Library’s homepage at: http://www.hcpl.lib.fl.us/

If you want an inexpensive source of entertainment, you cannot beat free! Check it out and see what you can get from it.

Photo by dno1967b

Announcement: Hernando History Festival

We have done a good bit to detail much of the area’s history here on the site, but we are not the only ones dedicated to preserving this history. The Hernando County Public Library has done more than we could hope to accomplish on the matter. They are once again providing a great service to the community through their organizing of the Hernando History Festival. This year’s theme is Ghosts From Our Past. The festival will be held on Saturday, November 8 from 11AM to 2:30PM at the Sand Hill Scout Reservation at 11210 Cortez Blvd. in Brooksville.

There are four featured presentations at the event. The first, Alligators in B Flat: Improbable Tales from Real Florida, will be presented by Jeff Klinkenberg. Mr. Klinkenberg is a staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times and the presentation will tie into his new book, Alligators in B Flat, published by University Press of Florida.

The next presentation is Archaeology Works: Materials Science by Nigel Rudolph of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. The Florida Public Archaeology Network does a great deal to promote the conservation of and education on Florida’s archaeological heritage.

From there we have blood on the Burial Mound, which is a presentation by David Letasi. Mr. Letasi is president of the Hernando Preservation Society. The Hernando Preservation Society is dedicated to the preservation of historical sites across Citrus, Hernando and Pasco Counties, which made up the landmass of the original Hernando County as we have covered here.

Finally, we have DIY Oral History, by Reese Bernier of the Hernando County Public Library System.

There will also be exhibits, vendors and crafts for people to check out. Bring the family and learn about region’s rich historical heritage.

Making Money Online: Writing Part 4

writing photo

Here is the final part in our series about making money online. The sites listed in these four parts are the predominant sites to go to when looking to make money writing online. There are others, but these are generally regarded as the best.

Listverse: Listverse is like Cracked’s more serious cousin. They too do list-based articles, but they do them without the comedic focus. They pay a hundred dollars per article accepted, which is pretty decent. The time it takes to get accepted can be a bit slow in my experience, so be prepared to have to wait for a reply on if they like your article or not. If you write considerable amounts of content fairly quickly, you can make reasonable money from getting published there.

GhostBloggers: GhostBloggers.net allows people purchase ghost-written articles for their blogs. The pay is not as high as some of the prior options on this list, but you can still earn a fairly reasonable amount for longer articles.

Helium Content Source: Helium Content Source publishes freelance writing not just online, but also in various print media as well. Everything from newspapers to department stores have purchased content from them, so there is potential to get your work published in various print media, vastly expanding your portfolio.

Demand Media Studios: Much like GhostBloggers or Helium Content Source, Demand Media Studios is a content provider that provides content for all sorts of other sites. There is always work to be found on a site like this, and if you have the drive and determination, you can string together enough material to really make decent money at it.

The Motley Fool Blog Network: If you know a good deal about finance and investing, sharing your knowledge with The Motley Fool Blog Network can be a decent way to make money sharing that knowledge. If you are successful, you can see your work syndicated to several high profile financial sites. They pay $50 or $100, depending on the quality of the accepted article. If you can do well there, you can build a fairly successful portfolio (possibly in the stock market as well as for your writing).

These are about the best sites you will find to make money online writing. We will cover other avenues for online incomes in the coming weeks, so be sure to bookmark http://bonniebarbieriteam.com  in order to have easy access to our future articles. We have already provided multiple articles about ways to save money and protect the investment you have made in your home. These can be found in our archives or through the search. We hope you find them useful.

Photo by Charles Jeffrey Danoff

Making Money Online: Writing Part 3

writing online photo

The past two days we have covered sites that you can make money from through writing. There are plenty more where those came from. Here is the next batch, and we will finish up the list next Monday. As with the previous entries, check each website’s rules and guidelines to give yourself a better chance of having your work accepted. Doing so can save you a lot of time and hassle as you work on your assignments to get paid.

oDesk: This one works similarly to Elance. They offer pretty much the same services and opportunities. If you want to expand your reach, being on both can increase your potential pool of clients greatly. Both sites have plenty of people looking to outsource some work, so there are tons of opportunities.

About.com: If you are an expert on a given topic, you can make money writing about your expertise through articles on About.com. It is one of the biggest sites on the Internet, and the exposure you can receive for your work is practically unrivalled.

Break Studios: Getting your content on Break.com can earn you money and a devoted audience. Their publishing platform serves several major men’s entertainment websites, allowing you to get your content out to a huge, yet specialized audience.

Cracked: Cracked is one of the largest comedy sites online. They have made stars out of several of their more popular writers. They pay fairly well, and they are very popular. Their articles get fantastic social media exposure. So, if you can write funny, list-based articles, you ought to check them out. They have a somewhat complicated screening process, so it could be difficult to be accepted on your first try. Learn their system, and you can get fairly steady pay if you have the talent for it.

Photo by the Italian voice