The St. Louis County Council approved additional changes to an ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners on the edge of foreclosure.
The tweaks to the ordinance include removing the right for homeowners to sue lenders after they’ve gone through mediation, and they come in the shadow of an ongoing legal battle with lenders over whether the county even has the authority to enforce the ordinance.
Councilwoman Hazel Erby first introduced the mediation plan and is confident in the county’s case.
The Missouri Bankers Association has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County over a new ordinance that requires lenders to offer mediation to homeowners facing foreclosure.
The trade group’s president, Max Cook, said they plan to argue that it has a laundry list of legal problems.
“Not the least of which is statute that says when it comes to banking laws, and rules, and regulation, no entity, be it a county, a city, what have you, can pass an ordinance or a rule more restrictive than that of the state of Missouri,” Cook said.
A new ordinance could offer struggling St. Louis City homeowners an option to help avoid foreclosure.
The program would extend a loan mediation process to any homeowner who requests it from their bank, just like the one passed two weeks ago in St. Louis County. Ignoring this request would cost a lender a $500 fine.
But, banks claim the laws violate state statutes prohibiting government intervention into the foreclosure process. They say it would mean fewer loans and increased costs.
The proposed bill is, in part, the result of an ongoing legal battle with the Missouri Banker’s Association. Schweich says the MBA is seeking to block his office from examining how the Finance Division examined the records of a number of failed banks in Missouri.