Friday , October 18 2019
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Bank repossesses, sells widowed single mum's house

When a pregnant Stephanie Steven's husband died following a tragic ATV bike accident, she found herself in a five-month long battle with Bankwest after she repossessed and sold her family property.

The grieving mother said she struggled to save her family home as her husband Ryan died without an official will – and she was not being recognized as his beneficiary

The mortgage for their four-bedroom home was in her late husband's name and with no valid will, Ms. Stevens was frozen out by her bank.

Ms. Stevens was three months pregnant with the couple's first child, Olly, at the time of her husband's death – and claims she was left homeless when the bank repossessed and sold their family home.

"Basically, they were vultures," Ms Stevens told A Current Affair.

With no will, the task of dealing with Ryan's estate fell to the state government.

"I wanted to keep the home that we lived in, that we renovated, that we had so many memories in for me and Olly, something for me to hold on throughout the darkness," Ms Stevens said.

She had to wait until Ryan's life insurance and superannuation were sorted out.

"We were married but that did not matter, there was no will," Ms Stevens said.

It took five months for Ms Stevens to be officially named as Ryan's beneficiary, while unpaid monthly mortgage repayments compounded the pain for the widowed single mum.

In that time the monthly mortgage repayments had gone unpaid. And Mr Stevens' life insurance was short $ 30,000 to cover the mortgage.

"They let interest accrue, they let legal fees go on to it, administration fees, and then they would not let me buy the property," she told the program.

Ms Stevens' parents stepped up to be the guarantors for the mortgage and make up the shortfall, but Bankwest rejected this – and continued to repossess the home and auctioned it off.

In 2013, the pair bought the home for $ 520,000 and five years later, Bankwest sold it for $ 70,000 less – but would have been able to claim this back on insurance to avoid a $ 30,000 loss.

"If they just accepted what I was offering, we could have a home," Ms. Stevens said.

In a statement, BankWar admitted that the level of support Ms Stevens experienced had "fallen short of her expectations during the distressing time" and extended their apology.

"We are lifting our standards of customer care, especially for customers with complex or sensitive needs, to ensure they receive better and more personalized support, now and in the future."

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