Vanessa Leskys is locked in a legal fight with her home loan lender.
Vanessa Leskys is locked in a legal fight with her home loan lender. Rob Wright

Dark side of a home ownership

THE experience of a local single mum is being held up as a salutary warning to other home owners.

One month after Vanessa Leskys purchased a property she’d rented for some years, illness and sudden unemployment put her mortgage into arrears.

Unable to find part-time employment to meet the payments, the qualified solicitor and single mother opened her own practice in the garage and converted her superannuation into payments.

Next came the economic downturn and with funds drying up, her mortgage lender filed a statement of claim for possession of the property.

Leskys’ initial application to the NSW Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) asking for a variation on the basis of hardship had to be re-submitted after a clerical error.

But after seeking Legal Aid, on or about February 10, 2009, the Supreme Court granted a stay leading to an agreement and a variation of $18,000 in the home loan the following May.

“I indicated the Supreme Court matter needed to be finalised and was told not to worry,” she said.

However, a call to the Supreme Court revealed her lender had obtained default judgement on March 4, 2009.

“They applied and obtained judgement while a stay was in place assessing my hardship application and before we settled,” Leskys said.

“Despite my best endeavours, I have been unable to bring them to account and substantial legal fees have been incurred and added to my mortgage.

“Why should I be stuck under a default judgment they shouldn’t have obtained when I cannot refinance and no other jurisdiction will be able to rectify the situation?

“As I am in arrears again, I have no defence and will be unable to get the default judgment set aside.”

An approach to State MP Andrew Fraser has led to the matter being referred to the Minister for Fair Trading. Leskys approached The Coffs Coast Advocate believing the matter of interest to any borrower running into unexpected difficulty.

“Financial institutions are ignoring proper procedure and appear to have their own practices for circumventing procedural fairness and access to justice,” she added.

“This practice needs to stop and courts made aware of such practices so no financial institution can obtain default judgment while a hardship application is afoot.

“Clearance certificates should be issued by the CTTT and the lender to prevent my circumstances happening again.”

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