A Qualified Written Request (QWR) is a tool to get information about your mortgage or notify your mortgage servicer of an error. This article will discuss what a QWR is, what it must contain, and what loan servicers are required by law to do when they receive a QWR. We’ll also touch on instances that a servicer doesn't have to comply with your QWR and what you can do if your servicer fails to comply with your QWR.
Written by Lawyer John Coble.
Updated September 22, 2021
A Qualified Written Request (QWR) is a tool to get information about your mortgage or notify your mortgage servicer of an error. They can be helpful if your lender is pursuing foreclosure in a state where they aren’t required to go through the court system to do so. This is called nonjudicial foreclosure. In nonjudicial foreclosures, there’s no court requiring you and your lender to exchange information. But you can use a QWR. You may uncover information you can use to bring a lawsuit to stop your foreclosure.
This article will discuss what a QWR is, what it must contain, and what loan servicers are required by law to do when they receive a QWR. We’ll also touch on instances that a servicer doesn't have to comply with your QWR and what you can do if your servicer fails to comply with your QWR.
What Is a Qualified Written Request (QWR)?
A QWR is either a request for information or a notice of error that you send to your mortgage servicer. The rules for QWRs are part of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) of 1974. Most mortgage borrowers are aware of RESPA from its role in the closing of their loan. Many borrowers aren't aware of their rights to send QWRs to their mortgage servicers.
Your mortgage servicer is the same company you send your payments to. There is often a special address where you must send QWRs, which may be listed on your bill or on the servicer's website. But it’s not always called the QWR address. It may simply say it’s the place to send requests for information or notices of errors. You can call your servicer to ask where to send a QWR if you can't find the address.
You can send a typed or handwritten note, so long as it contains the necessary components (listed below). Writing your QWR on the payment coupon or form that's provided by your servicer is not a valid QWR. Also, it's important to send a QWR by certified mail with a return receipt. By law, lenders are required to respond within a certain time frame. Having a certified mail receipt helps ensure your servicer sticks to these time requirements.
What Does a QWR Need To Include?
A valid QWR will include all information necessary to identify your account. For the servicer to be able to identify your account, they'll need your full name, correct address, and account number. Servicers have many accounts, and providing this information helps ensure they identify the right one.
Mortgage loans often involve several parties. By law, only your loan servicer is required to respond to a QWR. The law defines who the servicer is, but for your purposes, the servicer is the company you make your payments to. You should send your QWR to that company unless an experienced attorney decides otherwise.
When you send a QWR to request information, you must provide a detailed description of the information you want the servicer to provide. It's not a good idea to tell the servicer to send "all the information" since they'll have no idea what to send you. When you send a QWR that's a notice of error, you must precisely state what the account error is. You can't just say that the servicer has made an error. You have to tell them what and where the error is.
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What Must the Servicer Do After Receiving a QWR?
RESPA’s regulations govern how a servicer must handle a QWR. These regulations are part of what's known as Regulation X. Once a servicer receives a QWR, they have five business days to acknowledge its receipt. A signed certified mail receipt is enough to meet this requirement. The general rule is that the servicer has 30 days to provide the requested information or deal with the error. If the servicer writes you within the 30-day period and explains why it needs more time, it can have an additional 15 days.
Other Time Limits in Certain Situations
There are exceptions to the 30-day plus 15-day rule for the servicer to respond and investigate a notice of error. If a servicer has provided you with an inaccurate payoff balance, they have seven business days to correct that error.
The servicer has 30 days or until the foreclosure date, whichever is less, to correct the following errors:
The servicer started the foreclosure during the 120-day wait period before the foreclosure process is legally allowed to begin, or
If a loss mitigation application was submitted more than 37 days before the foreclosure sale date. This rule doesn't apply in some cases, including if the borrower isn't eligible for any loss mitigation options and their appeal rights have lapsed; if the borrower has rejected all the servicer’s loss mitigation offers; if the borrower fails to perform under the loss mitigation agreement.
If you send a notice of error and the servicer agrees there was an error, fixes it, and notifies you within five days of receiving the notice, they are not required to perform an investigation.
The 4 Ways a Servicer Can Respond to a Notice of Error
Your servicer may respond to your notice of error in one of four ways.
It can agree there's an error and fix it. In this case, the servicer must send you a written notice of the correction, the effective date of the correction, and contact information for further assistance, including a telephone number.
It can determine there wasn’t an error and provide its reasoning for this conclusion. In this case, the servicer must give you a statement of your rights to request the documents it relied on to make its determination. It must provide information on how to request these documents and contact information, including a telephone number, for further assistance.
If the servicer finds another error that was not raised in your notice of error while they are investigating it, the servicer must correct that error. The servicer must provide the borrower with written information regarding this error and inform the borrower of the action it took to fix the error. The servicer must also provide the effective date of the corrections and contact information (including a phone number) for further assistance.
The servicer may refuse to answer your QWR under certain conditions. Those conditions are discussed in the next section.
When a Servicer Doesn't Have To Comply With Your QWR
A servicer may choose not to comply with your QWR for a few reasons. Whatever the reason, if the servicer decides not to comply with your QWR, it must notify you of this choice within five business days.
The servicer doesn't have to comply with your request if it has already responded to a QWR that was substantially similar. For example, say the servicer complied with your QWR asking for a copy of all transactions from October 2020 through December 2020. Then you later file a new QWR asking for the transactions from December 2020. The servicer doesn't have to comply with your second QWR in this case because the request is substantially similar to your previous request.
The servicer also doesn't have to comply with a QWR if the information requested is confidential, proprietary, or privileged. For example, the servicer isn't required to comply with a QWR that requests information on conversations with its attorneys. That’s because the information is protected under the attorney-client privilege.
If the QWR is overly broad or unduly burdensome, the servicer doesn't have to comply. For example, if you send a notice of error that simply says the servicer has made a mistake, the servicer isn't required to go through all records to find the mistake. This is an overly broad request. You have to specifically identify the mistake if you want the servicer to comply.
According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an unduly burdensome QWR would be one that requested every document from the mortgage origination, servicing, and securitization to the foreclosure. Since this is an unduly burdensome QWR, the servicer wouldn't have to comply.
A servicer isn't required to comply with a request for information that is irrelevant to your mortgage account. For example, the servicer isn't required to comply if you send a QWR asking for information regarding the names of the janitors working in the servicer's headquarters.
The servicer doesn't have to comply with a QWR when the borrower’s account was transferred to another servicer. And, the servicer doesn't have to respond to a QWR after the mortgage loan has been paid off for more than one year.
You Can Sue the Servicer for Failure To Comply With Your QWR
If a servicer doesn’t comply with a legitimate QWR, it can be costly. Borrowers can be awarded actual damages for the losses caused by the servicer's failure to comply with the QWR. What would actual damages be? It depends on the facts of the case.
If a borrower sends a notice of error and shows they were correct about the error, but the servicer didn't fix it, the borrower should win in court. Damages could be very high if the servicer received a notice of error, didn’t fix it, and then foreclosed and evicted the borrower from their home. These damages might include the cost of temporary accommodations and also any emotional distress the borrower experienced.
If the borrower wins the lawsuit against the servicer for failure to comply with a QWR, the servicer will have to pay for the borrower’s attorney's fees and other legal costs, like hiring expert witnesses. These fees and costs can be very expensive.
The borrower is entitled to an additional $2,000 if they can establish that the servicer's patterns and practices don’t comply with RESPA's QWR requirements.
A QWR is an important tool to gather information from your mortgage servicer or to notify them of an error. A request for information can provide important documents that could be the difference between keeping your home or going into foreclosure. A notice of error can do the same.
If your lender does a judicial foreclosure, you'll be able to gather information from the servicer through the court discovery process. But if it's a nonjudicial foreclosure, a QWR is your only way to get information and documents from the mortgage servicer.
If the servicer ignores your QWR, you can sue them. You may win substantial money damages. So, if you're having problems with your mortgage servicer and you believe you're right, send a QWR to gather evidence to prove your case. Usually, the servicer will fix it themselves, but if not, you have the courts to fall back on.