Schoolteacher Dorothy Brochey’s family says she had a plan – passing her Miami Gardens home on to the next generation. It’s what her mother did, and she was hoping to do the same.
“It was my sister’s home. My mother lived there,” said her sister Virginia Smith.
Sadly, Dorothy died before she had a chance to give her sister legal authority over her home and her money matters.
Mortgage payments stopped being paid and records show the lender, NewRez, took the case to court and tried to get paid by serving several family members.
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A full year after Dorothy’s death, her sister finally had legal authority over her affairs but it was too late. The home was already in foreclosure.
“This has been like a nightmare for me. It’s been a lot,” Smith told NBC 6 over Zoom.
When she died, Dorothy only owed about $8,500 to pay off the loan.
The NBC 6 Investigators get results
But Smith says the lender added more than three times of what was owed in extra fees.
Records provided to NBC 6 Investigators show the fees included $8,067 for lawn maintenance.
“I thought $7,000 or $8,000 was a lot. I don’t know what they did,” Smith said.
Melanie Hyer is the family’s realtor.
“What they are doing is like the Wild, Wild West,” Hyer said.
Hyer told NBC 6 she was surprised when she went to inspect the home for sale months ago.
“When I came here, I noticed the house was boarded up. The pool was covered and there was a lockbox on the door. The bank had basically taken the property over and that’s a red flag,” she said.
Dorothy’s mortgage states that if the “borrower has abandoned the property, then lender may do and pay for whatever is reasonable or appropriate including repairs, changing locks or boarding up.” It goes on to say that “any amounts disbursed by lender...shall become additional debt” for the borrower.
But Hyer says Dorothy’s relatives were going to her home periodically, so it was not abandoned.
“We had to go ahead and take the locks off, change the locks. Then, they went and took our locks off and put more locks on,” Hyer told NBC 6.
Sandy Boisrond is the family’s attorney. She told NBC 6 when a mortgage has this type of clause, it’s ultimately up to a judge to decide if those fees are fair, or should have been included in the first place.
“They would normally have to go through the courts to get control over the property but while they’re doing that—the mortgage company is just running ‘em up and doing what they do and trying to take on as many fees as they can,” Boisrond said.
After months in court, the family decided to pay all the extra fees and what was left on the loan. In all, it cost them almost $40,000 to avoid foreclosure.
NewRez and its service provider, Shellpoint Mortgage Servicing, declined to discuss details of the case, but said in a statement, ”We worked with and continue to work with the homeowners directly to address their concerns.”
Boisrond told NBC 6 she has represented two other families who have been caught in this situation.
Here’s what you can do to prevent this from happening to you.
Boisrond recommends making sure you have a will and power of attorney in place so if something happens, a family member will be able to make decisions for you.
She also says it’s important to keep in touch with the lender to try to pay the mortgage and ensure the home is maintained if no one is living there.