Wells Fargo Bank breaks promise to 79 year old woman to honor property tax deferralPublished: September 25, 2012
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Rockwall, Texas -- Angela Hake lives on a fixed income in a modest home in Rockwall with her 11 year old yellow lab named Riley. Her pro bono attorney has filed a suit on her behalf against Wells Fargo for reneging on a promise to honor her property tax deferral on file with the Rockwall County Appraisal District. In Texas, senior citizens are allowed to defer payment of their property taxes which will be taken out of their estate on passing. The Texas state legislature rejected a proposed law to require mortgage companies to recognize such deferrals.
The lawsuit alleges that while the appraisal district has no intention of requiring Ms. Hake to pay property taxes, Wells Fargo is making such a demand, says it will pay the taxes to the district if she does not, tack on the payments to her current monthly mortgage and foreclose if she cannot meet the new monthly payments - Wells Fargo had made the same demand the year before. At that time, Ms. Hake was unaware that Wells Fargo was paying taxes on the property to the appraisal district that she did not owe. The appraisal district informed Ms. Hake that it would gladly give the money back to Wells Fargo to avoid foreclosure. That offer fell on deaf ears at Wells Fargo for almost a year despite attempts by Legal Aid of Northwest Texas for help. Pro bono counsel was ignored while Wells Fargo called Ms. Hake almost daily to request payment. Finally, in September 2011, when it got its money back from the appraisal district, Wells Fargo told Ms. Hake “it would honor the deferral.” It was short lived.
Despite this promise, in July 2012, Wells Fargo demanded that Ms. Hake pay the property taxes to the district. If Ms. Hake does not pay the property taxes, Wells Fargo said it would pay them, tack on the payments to her monthly mortgage payment, which, if not paid, will lead to foreclosure proceedings. Ms. Hake just wants Wells Fargo to honor its promise.
Ms. Hake was born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas. During the Great Depression, Ms. Hake’s grandfather, John Hirschi, was lauded in Wichita Falls for not foreclosing on 400 home mortgages he held. He allowed the homeowners to stay in their homes and pay what they could. Ms. Hake still works as a substitute teacher in the Rockwall Independent School District. Despite her chronic illnesses, many have her energy to that of actress Betty White. She was a bridesmaid in Senator Diane Feinstein’s wedding. Her husband passed when he was 39 years old.
Ms. Hake was previously a victim of Wells Fargo/Wachovia’s “Pick-a-Payment” mortgage concept which led to the filing of a class action in California federal court. The Pick-A-Payment mortgage loan product permitted the borrower to select a minimum payment amount which – unknown to them - lead to negative amortization which is when unpaid interest is added to the loan balance and the outstanding loan balance increases disproportionately and unfairly.
Released by Attorney Elizabeth A. Handschuch
Submitted by Darcy Rocha