In an exclusive interview with TNN we spoke to a west end homeowner who’s property was repossessed by the bank in February of this year.
TNN has decided to keep the identity of the former homeowner and the bank anonymous for legal reasons and will be referring to the former homeowner as John Q.
John initially purchased the property from his great-grandmother back in 1998. The property had been in their family for almost a century. John did not request any assistance from the bank to finish some renovations on the house until around 2008. Those renovations were completed by 2010.
“ I was paying my mortgage from 2010 all the way until the end, around $6,000 per month” they said.
The main house consisted of 4 bedrooms and 3 and a half bathrooms, as well as two one-bedroom apartments. Since purchasing the home, John has had issues with several tenants and even had to take a few to court.
“Some tenants owed in excess of $20,000, and another one owed around $13,000,” John said. “The tenants eventually do get to the lower courts and are told by the judge to pay a certain amount or will receive jail time, which never happens.”
It got to the point where John could not even afford an attorney to represent them anymore and had to represent themselves in court to prevent them from going even further into debt. Despite these issues, they were able to keep up with their mortgage pretty consistently, but was late in payment at times.
“Once people fall behind, the bank gives them some absorbent late fees and the like, which adds to the problem even more,” John said.
“However, I always kept the bank in the know of what I was going through . . . assuring them that a certain amount of dollars will be coming to them either through the courts or the law firm.”
The first time that John ended up in Supreme Court with the bank regarding several unpaid arrears was in 2017.
“ The judge ruled in favor of the bank, but told them to work with me,” they said. “From then on, I continued to consistently pay, so I thought that everything would be fine.”
Despite thinking this, the property got repossessed and everyone was forced to vacate the premises; including John’s elderly mother-in-law, a mother with an infant and tenants who had been staying at the property for less than one year.
“ In my opinion, not enough time was given to evacuate the home, find somewhere to put our things and also find a place to live,” they said. “That day was like one of my worst nightmares come true.”
John feels that they had paid the target that the bank had asked them to reach.
“The way the writ was laid out, there was an arrears target and the main balance of the home,” they said. “ I was not aware of the principal balance for what was left for the home because we still had 15 years left on the mortgage to pay . . . I would have been finished with the mortgage around my 65th birthday.”
According to the John, the bank had asked for arrears around the $80,000 mark and they offered the bank close to $100,000. John had a very hard time communicating with the bank during this time and tried to email and call them and even walked into the bank looking to speak with someone. They were always told that there was nobody available and did not receive an email or call or any kind from the bank to this date.
“One day, a bailiff came to the property and served me the writ of possession. Within 14 days of that writ, that’s when they came to repossess the home,” they said. “Within that time, I could not get my loan officer to respond to me and was told that I could only contact them through a lawyer.”
When John finally secured a lawyer, they just were on the phone with the lawyers from the bank and did not really keep John informed of what was going on.
“ My account became frozen [after receiving the writ], but because the funds were going from one bank to another, I got to see exactly what was going on and what was being sent over,” they said.
During this difficult time, John had reached out to people in the government, including their area MP, to see if they could assist in any way.
“It seemed that every time someone said that they spoke to someone at the bank, the financial goalposts were being moved,” they said. “When I got to speak with the loan officer on the actual day of repossession, it did not seem like they were even aware of what the actual figures were supposed to be.”
John Q, has been trying to put their fiance and kids on the mortgage too, but the bank would not negotiate with them and gave them no real response.
“The bank did tell me that their policy had changed where they now use their oldest person in the loan structure,” they said. “Me being the oldest person did not change anything from trying to get the mortgage extended or anything like that, just to ease me up.”
John feels that they have worked hard and fought for that property since acquiring it in 1998. Since then, they’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and kept it in good standing and well maintained.
“I literally built the place with my bare hands and contracted it out myself,” they said. “ While I was laying blocks and digging trenches and footings [on the property], my kids were running in the trees and playing in the sand. So, losing the house was also a heartbreak for them.”
Despite being repossessed back in February, the Sandys property is still not currently on the market. There is just a sign out front that says “Private Property.”
“I feel that I have a right to at least know the home’s market value, but as stated before, the communication with this specific bank is terrible,” John said.
John believes that, halfway through their agreement with the bank, the bank pulled the rug from underneath them. They don’t believe that the bank would do what they did to them to too many other people.
“I can’t be the worst person when it comes to a mortgage; it just does not fit my criteria; I have not abandoned my loan at all,” they said. “ I can’t go to another bank and get another mortgage and move on with my life. People are just at the mercy of the bank.”
This has been an incredibly stressful period of time for John and their family; with only 14 days’ notice to move out of the home that they helped build; trying to find a temporary place to stay in a timely manner and finding enough money to cover the first month’s deposit for that place.
“What is really sad about this is that I have money, but it is locked off at the bank,” they said. “The bank then offered me around $3000 of my money to pay for an AirBnB for two weeks.”
John did not accept that offer and found themselves staying at a hotel for a few weeks to figure out where to go and what to do next. The hotel charged them $200 per night.
“I’ve reached out to everyone about this situation, even the Premier. But, he’s been tied up with COVID. There are other important things that need addressing in the country than just the virus,” John said.
“The bank had heard about me offering them $100,000, but from my understanding, the loan officer told the bank to not take the money and my house,” they continued. “ If the bank had done both things, I think that would have surely pushed me over the edge.”
The main thing that Mr. John Q, is seeking now is someone who can look at this entire situation objectively to see if they truly are an unfit mortgagor and why they are in the situation that they are currently in and how they can get out of it, if at all.
“ My family and I do not know where we are going to go from here. We will continue to fight this matter and I will not let it go just like that,” as John concluded.
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