8/26/2016 - This man can't afford his very own attorney - because he's paying the tab to the lawyers hired to go to court him
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O'Neil McLean acquired an extra mortgage but fell behind for the payments. He took the loan companies to court after they attemptedto sell his condo but his contract meant he previously to foot their legal bill.


O'Neil McLean is often a tenacious entrepreneur who thought a second mortgage would give him some a little breating room to catch through to bills after he depleted his own savings to bootstrap a small business venture.


Instead, that loan has ballooned to three times what he originally borrowed, has dragged him via a costly court battle and put his family at risk to losing their Scarborough home.


McLean fell behind on payments to his two lenders last spring when he with his fantastic wife faced an urgent emotional stress: paying U.S. medical bills on her father, who was battling cancer of prostate.

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Amid the mountain of medical bills, McLean received legal notice last July how the mortgage lenders planned to offer his condo to get better their money.


He's spent earlier times year trying to stop his mortgage brokers from repossessing the property he bought being an investment for his 5-year-old daughter's post-secondary education.


But his determination has been costly: his second mortgage debt has grown from your $25,500 he originally borrowed to nearly $75,000.


The difference consists of charges.


About half of the fees are for lawyers' bills - despite the fact that he cannot afford his very own attorney - because he's making payment on the tab for the lawyers hired to go to court him.


McLean decided to share his story because he believes the system is stacked against financially vulnerable Canadians like him, allowing lenders and lawyers to benefit from a disparity between his resources and theirs.


"It literally may happen to anybody and it's probably became of someone you know, they only feel ashamed," he stated.


"How lots of people miss 2 or 3 months of their loan and after that basically ought to avoid their home? Not since they can't pay their mortgage but because the legal fees which are tacked on are far too excessive?"


Debtors who don't defend themselves against a legal action are hit having an automatic default judgment against them. Meanwhile, debtors like McLean they like to fight back in court can get thousands of dollars in legal bills whilst still being lose.


"They like it when individuals fight," said Ron Alphonso, a feisty mortgage loan officer who's carved out a niche market by offering mortgages to borrowers in arrears and negotiating using the lawyers suing them.


"There's a huge power imbalance, the power all resides using the lender and the law practice - it's like 99 per-cent to 1 percent and the intimidation factor is unbelievable."


While there are numerous property litigation enforcement businesses that act on behalf of lenders, within the inland northwest companies that focus on defending debtors, he explained.


"The reason is, there's lots of money in enforcing it with out money in stopping it. To obtain you to definitely help you to stop it's virtually impossible," he stated.


McLean's second-mortgage troubles began as he entered into a CitiFinancial Canada branch in October 2014. Rejected with the major banks, he considered the loosely regulated alternative, or "shadow lending" market, where companies invest high-interest loans to high-risk clients.


Citi offered McLean financing with an intention rate of 20 per-cent - over half a dozen times what majors would charge.


He signed on the spot for the terms: the total repayment of great interest and principal can be $57,600 at the conclusion of the credit agreement, in 2024.


The contract included as well a clause stating however perform the hook for just about any costs the lending company incurred when trying to gather for the agreement - including outsourcing enforcement to lawyers.


CitiFinancial, a Canadian arm of yank financial giant Citigroup, says requiring borrowers to pay for the legal costs from the lenders is standard industry practice. It added that it is not "at liberty to discuss specific accounts," but recognizes McLean's complaint.


Citi said hello gives a advanced of transparency to customers, rigorous reviews of its lending practices and sets high standards because of its employees. In addition, it has borrowers sign a document acknowledging they had the chance to use a lawyer assess the loans.


McLean admits which he signed without fully understanding the consequences, but added that they feels the documents were confusing and unclear.


"They present it something can repay in just a reasonable time, but, no, it's A decade and you're paying double everything you borrowed," he explained.


"They never explain the procedure at all for should you enter default, and so they pressured me to sign right then and there."


Just few months into the loan term, McLean fell behind on home loan payments to both CitiFinancial as well as the company that held his original mortgage, MCAP Corp., Canada's second-largest mortgage finance company. MCAP declined the ability to comment.


Combined, McLean estimates he owed both the lenders back-payments totalling about $5,000 back then.


"I was behind $5,000 and they were able to change it into $75,000," he stated.


"That alone will make you wish to retrieve your hair."


His tab skyrocketed once his accounts were given over to the lenders' lawyers, which tacked on thousands in billable hours.


Last fall, CitiFinancial lawyers at Rigobon Carli took the lead on McLean's case. The firm said hello cannot discuss the information McLean's case, but partner Walter Rigobon said estate agent fees accumulate in drawn-out cases "if the consumer won't meet his / her obligations and new payment agreements need to be drafted or additional court proceedings are essential."


McLean's numerous efforts to negotiate a repayment plan were rejected by the lenders, who've no obligation to take repayment schemes once a debtor defaults.


He rented out his condo to tenants, hoping that income would help his situation. He collected documents and attended legal aid for help. He tried several times to barter repayment settlements.


But fed up of in the midst of legal proceedings, the tenants moved out earlier this month, he was quoted saying, preparing his distress.


In May - while he owed about $30,000 in legal as well as other fees - McLean convinced a judge to put aside a court-ordered judgment for possession until the end of July, arguing that they needed more time to launch his statement of defence because he was drowning in paperwork, process and particulars.


Almost $20,000 may be added to that tab since May.


McLean's thought the mortgage terms were unfair "may raise issues of unconscionability and inequality of bargaining power," Justice Carole Brown of the Superior Court of Justice said in their own decision to be the proceedings.


"It appeared from his presentation that they did not understand the procedures from the court and it was attempting, but struggling to understand," she said.


McLean has since been being forced to make a decision: cut his losses or keep fighting. Lenders offered him a settlement that would discover them sell the condo and take what they are owed.


His bill for just two mortgages plus fines totals $252,000. His condo is worth about $271,000.


Contrary is left over after real estate fees, it will head to McLean.


McLean filed a statement of defence Thursday-meaning the clock continues to be ticking on his estate agent fees.


He remains convinced the court will agree which he was the victim of predatory lending, he may be charged excessive fees understanding that his repayment plans were unfairly dismissed.


"I'd rather lose the entire equity than tell these people ‘Hey, you won'," he stated.


"I'd prefer to be the voice of change even if I lost everything while carrying it out."

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