Surviving spouses of three reverse mortgage borrowers filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Department of Housing and Urban Development challenging the validity of the foreclosures they now face. Attorneys for the American Association of Retired Persons represent the plaintiffs. They claim HUD rule changes for how and when the loans are to be paid off violates existing contracts between the borrowers and lenders, according to the suit filed in the U.S. District Court of Columbia. Plaintiffs seek an injunction against HUD from foreclosing on the spouses. A reverse or Home Equity Conversion Mortgage allows the borrower, who must be at least 62 years old, to convert a portion of the equity in the home for cash. No repayment is required until the borrower no longer uses the home as a principal residence or does not meet the obligations of the loan, often in the event of death. In 1989, HUD rules stated that a borrower or their heirs would never owe more on their mortgage than the home was worth, according to the suit. But HUD changed the rule in 2008 to hold the heir, which includes a surviving spouse, responsible for the loan even if it is more than what the home is worth once the borrower dies, according to the suit. A HECM statute titled "Safeguard to Prevent Displacement of Homeowner" says homeowners, including the spouse, cannot be displaced from the home until the HECM loan terminates. Homeowners who want to buy the home have been unable to secure financing exceeding the current value of the property, according to the suit, allowing strangers to purchase the home when they cannot. "Rather than protecting borrowers, HUD retroactively changed the terms of the loans to make these elderly borrowers’ spouses and heirs pay more to keep their home than an unrelated purchaser would have to pay to purchase the property," said Steven Skalet, one of the plaintiff's attorneys of the Mehri & Skalet law firm. "This is shameful and we intend to make HUD honor the representations and promises they made to borrowers when they signed up for these government-insured loans." HUD does not comment on pending litigation. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior