KENNEWICK, WA -- The Washington Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Washington State Department of Commerce today in Brown v. Commerce, a case addressing the rights of Washington homeowners to access mediation with their lenders under the Foreclosure Fairness Act (FFA). Northwest Justice Project (NJP) and Columbia Legal Services (CLS) jointly represented Kennewick homeowner Darlene Brown in the case to advocate for the equal right to mediation for Washington homeowners whose loans are owned by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
This case involved Darlene Brown, a disabled homeowner in Benton County, Washington, who was in danger of losing her home due to unexpected deaths in her family and resultant loss of income. The mortgage note was owned by Freddie Mac, but because the loan servicer M&T Bank as "note holder" was on the mediation-exempt list, Ms. Brown was denied mediation.
"We believe all homeowners with loans owned by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae should be granted the same right to mediation, regardless of what bank or non-bank entity services their loan and 'holds' their note. The Court's decision means that not all Washington homeowners with Fannie and Freddie owned loans will be able to use mediation to avoid foreclosure" said NJP Staff Attorney Meredith Bruch.
While NJP and CLS are disappointed by the Court's decision to uphold the Department of Commerce's denial of mediation for Ms. Brown, they will continue their efforts to ensure Washington homeowners receive the full protections afforded them by state and federal law and are treated equally when trying to save their homes from foreclosure.