HUD Appeals Non-Borrowing Reverse Mortgage Spouse Ruling

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has appealed a recent court decision regarding reverse mortgage non-borrowing spouses.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan has filed a notice of appeal in the reverse mortgage lawsuit after a court ruled in October in favor of two non-borrowing spouses.

The Department of Justice filed the appeal on behalf of Secretary Donovan on November 26, 2013 regarding the case Bennet v. Donovan. The notice of appeal was submitted by Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.

In October, a court in Washington, D.C. ruled against HUD in the lawsuit, claiming that the government agency violated federal law when it did not protect the surviving, non-borrowing spouses of reverse mortgage borrowers in the plaintiffs’ cases.

Robert Bennett of Annapolis, Maryland and Leila Joseph of Brooklyn, New York, filed the suit against HUD after the agency had foreclosed on their homes they shared with their late spouses. Since their spouses had been reverse mortgage borrowers, Bennet and Joseph had their names taken off the titles of their homes.

AARP, which represented Bennet and Joseph, argued that foreclosure action was illegal as certain HUD regulations and mortgage documents conflicted with a law passed by Congress that authorized the agency’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage program. The organization welcomed the October court decision, stating it was hopeful HUD would “act quickly” to implement new borrower protections as a result.

Written by Jason Oliva

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