Rodgers made all his mortgage payments on time, but Wells decided out of the blue that he had to carry insurance for the full replacement value of his home -- $1 million -- and started to charge him an extra $500 a month in premiums. When Rodgers sent a formal letter to the lender questioning this, they did not answer in good time, so a court awarded him $1,000 in damages, which Wells wouldn't pay. So the court is allowing him to sell the contents of the lender's office to make good on the bill.
"It's a completely unreasonable demand," says Irv Ackelsberg, a mortgage expert at the Philadelphia law firm Langer, Grogan & Diver. "Their interest is in protecting their mortgage, not ensuring that the house is rebuilt."Phila. homeowner wins judgment against Wells Fargo over mortgage fees
Rodgers' next step put him at some risk, he concedes now. He refused to renew the higher-cost policy. Instead, Wells Fargo bought him so-called forced-placement insurance - a policy that typically costs much more than ordinary coverage and only protects the mortgage-holder's interests.
But he fought back with his suit under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Last month, Wells Fargo sent him more than $1,000, and Menke says it intended to fully satisfy the judgment. "We had considered this matter closed," he says.
What about Rodgers' four-page letter demanding answers about how much Wells is trying to charge him - charges that have added $500 a month to his statement?
Menke says Wells Fargo sent a written response "within the last month." As of Monday, Rodgers hadn't seen it.
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