Double the escrow, double the pain

Large hike in monthly payment could violate RESPA

DEAR BENNY: I own a house worth approximately $400,000. The current mortgage is $25,000. A company in Florida took over the mortgage about six months ago. The mortgage company handles the tax and insurance payments through an escrow account. Given the current schedule of payments, the account will have a positive balance all next year. The mortgage company now wants to double the escrow payments.

What, short of paying off the mortgage, are my options? Can the mortgage company legally demand such payments? I have owned a number of homes, vacation homes and rental homes over the years and never experienced anything this outrageous. –John

DEAR JOHN: Lenders throughout this country usually demand that their borrowers pay money monthly into escrow so that the lender will pay the annual (or semi-annual) real estate tax and the home insurance. Most lenders are conscientious about making timely payments out of the escrow funds. But over the years, many of my clients have encountered such problems as nonpayment or late payment.