By Chris Bruce
Twenty housing groups sued Deutsche Bank and Ocwen Financial Corp., saying they left foreclosed homes in minority neighborhoods in disrepair while carefully tending homes in white neighborhoods.
The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act in 30 metropolitan areas around the nation involving foreclosed homes held by Deutsche Bank in its role as trustee.
Ocwen and another company, Altisource Solutions, are responsible for maintaining and marketing “a large number” of Deutsche Bank properties, the National Fair Housing Alliance said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. Altisource also was named as a defendant.
“The failure of Defendants to take the minimal actions necessary to equally maintain and monitor bank-owned homes in African-American and Latino communities occurred with their full knowledge that their actions and omissions would severely harm minority communities which have been repeatedly damaged by discriminatory housing practices and conditions in the past,” the complaint said.
John Lovallo, a spokesman for Ocwen, said the NFHA allegations “lack credible evidence” and have no merit. “We believe we have in place the necessary quality control standards designed to ensure that all properties are handled consistently regardless of their location.”
Altisource also said the claims lack merit, saying discredited research underlies the NFHA’s claims. “The NFHA assertions misrepresent both Altisource’s conduct and our role as a property preservation vendor,” Altisource said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg Law. Deutsche Bank spokesman Lawton KIng declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit followed a multiyear investigation undertaken by NFHA and partner agencies, the alliance said in its statement.
Case: Nat’l Fair Housing Alliance v. Deutsche Bank , N.D. Ill., 18-cv-00839, complaint filed 2/1/18 .
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