Saturday, November 27, 2010

L.A. Extends "Boot Ban" For Tenants In Foreclosure Evictions Thru End Of 2011

In Los Angeles, California, KABC-TV Channel 7 reports:

  • Los Angeles lawmakers have made a move to protect renters from becoming victims of the foreclosure crisis. The Los Angeles City Council has voted to extend a moratorium that protects renters from being evicted when their home or apartment is foreclosed on and a new owner takes over. The council's president says the ordinance protects as many as 10,000 families from eviction.

  • "They can still be kicked out for the normal reasons like not paying rent, breaking the rules, but if they're paying their rent and playing by the rules, the new owner, usually a bank, can't kick them out of a home or apartment they've been a good tenant in," said L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti. The eviction ban will be in effect at least through the end of 2011 and does not affect rent-controlled properties.

Source: Eviction protection extended for L.A. renters.

R/E Scammer Dodges Restitution Order; Judge Says Ripoffs Too Complex To Figure Out Who Gets What; "Owner-Finance" Sellers Among Those Left Holding Bag

In Marco Island, Florida, the Marco Eagle reports:

  • A 64-year-old Marco Island businessman serving 2½ years in a federal prison for mortgage fraud won’t have to pay restitution to his victims — unless they sue and win. U.S. District Judge John Steele ruled [] after Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy and Assistant U.S. Public Defender Russell Rosenthal agreed that due to mortgage transfers, the government is unable to identify the total loss or what people, banks or lenders lost money because of Douglas Lee Carter Sr.

  • In a two-page order following a restitution hearing [], the judge said determining that would involve complex issues and cause delays, outweighing the need for mandatory restitution.


  • His record of land deals in Collier Circuit Court is six pages long, with more than $30 million in foreclosures, lawsuits, judgments and dissatisfied sellers and buyers dating to 1984, so the FBI was asked to investigate.

  • In most cases, Carter signed promissory notes, stopped paying sellers after financing homes for more than they were worth, then pocketed the difference. Although some sellers were indicted, most were innocent victims who lost millions.


  • Victims say attorney John P. White of Naples, who handled most of his deals, is now under investigation. He was suspended from practicing law for 21 days by the Florida Supreme Court in November after the victims in this federal case filed a complaint and he was charged with dishonesty, fraud and misrepresentation; he pleaded to general misconduct. However, a pending complaint by a former employee says he continued taking clients after the Supreme Court ordered him not to, which was 30 days before his suspension went into effect.

  • He now works with attorney E. James Kurnik II at Naples Law Group PL, operating a loan modification and foreclosure defense business. White couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

For the story, see Judge rules Marco Island man in prison for mortgage fraud won’t have to pay restitution.

NYC Homeowner Targets Former Owners Dead For 100 Years In Lawsuit To Quiet 'Cloudy' Title

In Elmhurst, Queens, the New York Post reports:

  • A Queens woman is "summons"-ing the dead -- suing the former owners of her Elmhurst home, who died a century ago. Miriam Castro, 61, has summoned Charles Simonson, Wilder Pallez and their descendants to court to verify past ownership of the property her $700,000 house is built on.

  • Chances are they won't answer -- absent a psychic. Castro, who bought the house in 1992, was denied a title-insurance policy last winter because the chain of ownership, dating back to the 1870s, was unclear. "It's certainly not the kind of lawsuit you see very often," said a source familiar with the case.(1)

Source: Qns. homeowner sues dead people.

(1) The type of lawsuit typically employed to clear up a 'cloudy' title problem on real estate is known as an action to quiet title, although I am informed that in some places, an action for declaratory relief is also a possibility.

For more on actions to quiet title (especially for those in Texas, since this work cites profusely to Texas case law), see this Quiet Title Handbook.

Friday, November 26, 2010

NY Appellate Court Tells Trial Judge: Cancelling Mortgage, Note Because Of Lender's "Repugnant, Shocking & Repulsive" Conduct Goes A Bit Too Far

The New York Law Journal reports:

  • A judge who blasted a lender's "repugnant, shocking and repulsive" conduct in trying to foreclose on a Long Island home exceeded his authority when he canceled the mortgage on the property, a state appeals court has ruled. After IndyMac Bank obtained a foreclosure judgment against Diana J. Yano-Horoski, who took out a $292,500 mortgage in 2004, the East Patchogue homeowner requested a settlement conference with the bank.

  • In a decision last year, Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey A. Spinner in Suffolk County criticized an IndyMac representative for what he called her "opprobrious demeanor and condescending attitude" during the conference, and said she had made it "abundantly clear that no form of mediation, resolution or settlement would be acceptable to the bank."


  • Blasting IndyMac for its "egregious" conduct, he concluded that monetary sanctions would not benefit Ms. Yano-Horoski, and took the unusual step of canceling the debt and discharging the mortgage (NYLJ, Nov. 23, 2009).


  • Last week, the Appellate Division, Second Department, held in an unsigned ruling that the "severe sanction…was not authorized by any statute or rule…nor was the plaintiff given fair warning that such a sanction was even under consideration." "The reasoning of the Supreme Court that its equitable powers included the authority to cancel the mortgage and note was erroneous, since there was no acceptable basis for relieving the homeowner of her contractual obligation to the bank," the panel wrote in its unanimous unsigned ruling in IndyMac Bank, F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 2010 NY Slip Op 08532 (App. Div. 2nd Dept., November 16, 2010).(1)

For the story, see Panel Upsets Ruling That Canceled Mortgage.

(1) After getting hammered in the lower court (during which the lender was represented by the foreclosure mill law firm Steven J. Baum, P.C.), the lender rolled out a couple of heavyweight law firms (4 attorneys named for the filing of one brief) to win reversal of the earlier ruling. The homeowner, unrepresented by counsel in the lower court, remained unrepresented on appeal.

Court Tacks $55K In Homeowner's Attorney Fees Onto $41K Damage Award Against Home Contractor Found Liable For Substandard Work

In Jefferson County, Texas, The Southeast Texas Record reports:

  • A Jefferson County jury recently found that a contractor failed to honor his agreement with local resident Fred Pouncy, awarding the man $41,270 in damages and his attorney, David W. Starnes, an additional $55,000.

  • As the Southeast Texas Record previously reported, Pouncy filed a lawsuit against Jesse and Bonnie Blankenship of Blankenship Welding on Dec. 30, 2008, alleging the substandard building the company constructed prevented him from obtaining windstorm insurance. The case went to trial on Oct. 25 and ended four days later, with jurors finding that the Blankenships committed fraud and deceptive trade practices(1) and breached their contract with Pouncy.

For more, see More than half of 96K verdict awarded to attorney.

(1) In Texas, successful lawsuits brought for violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act entitle the winning consumer to have a court tack on his/her legal fees onto any damage award granted by a court, as was done in this case.

An important note here is that it is not all that uncommon for the attorney fee award in these types of consumer cases to exceed the damages awarded to the consumer. The beauty of some of these consumer protection laws (if you're the screwed over consumer, that is) is that experienced consumer protection attorneys who are used to working on a contingency fee basis are out there and will take on cases over seemingly small amounts, provided, of course, that there are strong facts and ample proof that the applicable consumer protection law was violated (and, of course, there is(are) a defendant(s) having deep enough pockets to cough up the cash for the legal fees in a successful suit). Consumer litigators experienced at bringing actions under the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act are particularly known for bringing suits over small damage claims.

The story is silent as to whether the homeowner's attorney took the case on a contingency fee basis, and if so, whether there was any contingent fee risk multiplier (see generally, The Yale Law Jounal: The Contingency Factor In Attorney Fee Awards) applied when calculating the $55,000 legal fee.

For a survey of state consumer protection laws throughout the U.S., see National Consumer Law Center: CONSUMER PROTECTION IN THE STATES: A 50-State Report on Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices Statutes.

For informative articles from The Florida Bar Journal on how these attorney fee "tack-ons" work in Florida for violations of its consumer protection law (ie. the Florida Deceptive & Unfair Trade Practices Act - "FDUTPA", see:

TX Couple Sue To Recover Home Sold Out From Under Them In F'closure; Say Lender's Broken Loan Mod Promises Violate State Deceptive Trade Practices Act

In Jefferson County, Texas, The Southeast Texas Record reports:

  • In hopes [to] keep the bank from taking their home, Groves residents Keith and Julia Keen have filed suit against Sun Trust Mortgage. [...] In April, the Keens could no longer afford to pay their mortgage and contacted U.S. Mortgage Solutions to apply for relief under the Obama Home Affordability Program.

  • In their suit, the Keens claim Sun Trust told them they would review a new loan agreement structured by U.S. Mortgage Solutions, but on Sept. 28 Sun Trust opted to foreclose on the property "in spite of repeated representations that the paperwork was being reviewed."

  • On Nov. 4 Sun Trust filed a forcible entry and detainer action to evict the plaintiffs from their home, court papers say. The Keens maintain that they would have brought their loan current if Sun Trust would have told them from the onset that it had no intention of modifying the loan agreement.

  • The Keens are accusing Sun Trust of deceptive trade practices(1) and are willing to pay $10,000 to bring the loan current if the court halts the foreclosure, court papers say. They are represented by Beaumont attorney Thomas Roebuck Jr. of Roebuck Thomas Roebuck & Adams.

Source: Groves couple claims it was deceived by loan modification agreement, sues mortgage company.

(1) For those of you wondering how a couple who have already had their home sold out from under them in a foreclosure sale can afford to pay an attorney for legal services in a case like this, note that in Texas, a successful lawsuit alleging acts or omissions that constitute violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act will allow a judge to tack on the homeowner's attorneys fees to any damages and/or other relief awarded to the homeowner, to be paid by the losing defendant.

MD Closing Agent Cops Plea To Pocketing Real Estate Closing Cash Meant For Existing Mtg Payoffs; Title Insurance Underwriter Left Holding $3.7M Bag

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Baltimore, Maryland):

  • Anthony V. Weis, age 45, of Phoenix, Maryland, pleaded guilty [] to wire fraud in connection with a mortgage fraud scheme to defraud lenders of approximately $3.7 million in just eight months.


  • According to Weis’s plea agreement, Weis was the president and a shareholder of Maple Leaf Title LLC (MLT), a real estate title agency located in Towson, Maryland. Weis directed MLT employees in 13 real estate closings conducted between February and September 2009 to withhold the payoff checks from institutions that held the existing mortgage loan notes on the properties. In each instance, the settlement statement sent to the borrower’s lender falsely represented that the payoff was being made.

  • In an effort to conceal the fraud scheme, Weis caused monthly mortgage payments to be made to the banks holding the mortgage notes. Believing that the bank had been paid off as a result of the settlement, the borrower stopped making monthly payments on that mortgage. And since that lender was receiving monthly payments, it had no reason to notify the borrower of any delinquency. However, because Weis was unable to send checks in every case where he had misappropriated the payoffs from escrow, a number of MLT clients received delinquency notices for non-payment of the mortgage note. A few were threatened with foreclosure and were forced to hire attorneys to prevent being ejected from their homes.

  • Because the existing mortgages had not been paid off, the liens against the property were not removed and a title free of pre-existing liens and claims (clear title) could not be passed to the new lender and borrower. An insurance company had issued title insurance policies to the borrowers guaranteeing clear title. As a result of Weis’s criminal conduct, the title insurance company ultimately paid out $3.7 million to financial institutions that held mortgage notes.

For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Towson Title Agency Operator Pleads Guilty in $3.7 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme (Failed to Make $3.7 Million in Pay Offs to Mortgage Lenders Holding Liens on 13 Properties).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Compensation Fund Proposal An Attempt To Buy Off State AGs, Keep Them From "Digging Deeper & Uncovering More Rot In The Mortgage System": Legal Expert

Buried in a recent New York Times story on the ongoing foreclosure scandal is this excerpt describing one legal expert's view of the banking industry's latest attempt to sweep their wrongdoing under the rug:

  • For 18 months, the Obama administration has promoted modifications that would keep families in their homes over foreclosures that would kick them out. The programs have had some success but ultimately have done little to stem the tide.

  • The banks’ act was to put their tail between their legs, act contrite before Congress and change nothing,” said Adam Levitin, an associate profesor of law at Georgetown University who testified before Congress on Tuesday and will testify again on Thursday.

  • The banks hope to buy off the attorneys general with money, perhaps to establish a compensation fund for victims, Mr. Levitin said. That, he said, would prevent attorneys general from “digging deeper and uncovering more rot in the mortgage system. My fear is that the banks’ calculus is correct.”

Source: Foreclosure Fix Is Seen as Distant.

Sewer Service, Inflated Process Server Billings A Possibility For Recent Foreclosed Home In Which Dead Body Was Discovered In Garage

In Cape Canaveral, Florida, WESH-TV Channel 2 reports:

  • Authorities have not yet been able to positively identify a body that was found in a foreclosed Brevard County townhome, but the remains are believed to be that of the owner, Kathryn Norris.

  • Court records paint a muddy picture of a foreclosure case that moved quickly with little regard for what may have happened to Norris. "It's the typical sloppiness we see when it comes to the server process," said Orlando attorney Matt Englett, who represents homeowners in foreclosure cases. Englett reviewed Norris' foreclosure documents with WESH 2 News.

  • The foreclosure on Norris' property was filed in February and ended just days ago with the sale of the townhome for $68,000. The new buyer, on his first inspection of the property after the sale, discovered the remains in the passenger side of a vehicle in the townhome's garage. Up until Norris' disappearance, sometime around September of 2009, records show she was up to date on her mortgage payments.

  • Foreclosure documents in the case show a number of irregularities. For example, a company called ProVest submitted an affidavit of diligent search and inquiry which stated that it found no records of a drivers license or a vehicle in Norris' name. However, the Brevard County Sheriff's Office confirmed that the vehicle in Norris' garage was registered to her. ProVest was working for the Florida Default Law Group, which was working for Wells Fargo in the foreclosure case.

  • Other documents show ProVest charged more than $854 for research, including billing for trying to reach two tenants, even though Norris lived alone. "Judges have allowed these banks and these attorneys to skate and skirt around the process, and that's why we're experiencing these problems," said Englett.

For the story, see Foreclosure Docs Questioned After Body's Discovery (Body Found By New Owner On Thursday).

In a related story, see Woman Found Dead In Foreclosed Home (Neighbors Say Owner Missing For More Than A Year).

Title Mix-Up Leads To Home Sale Out From Under Now-Homeless Kansas City Senior

In Kansas City, Missouri, WDAF-TV Channel 4 reports:

  • An elderly woman was evicted [last month] from the house she's lived in for more than 10 years on Kansas City's east side, but not because she was behind on her mortgage or because of foreclosure.

  • Norma Rozzelle could only watch and cry as sheriff's deputies removed her belongings from her home. The 70-something-year-old woman lived in the home for more than 10 years and claims to be the rightful owner.

  • "The house has been paid for since 1989," Rozzelle said. "It belonged to Elbertdine Madison, and she deeded everything over to me." But when Rozzelle's friend and roommate Elbertdine Madison passed away in 2005, Rozzelle's attorney said the transfer of the deed was never recorded properly. As a result, relatives of Madison staked a claim to the house and a long protracted probate battle over her estate ensued.

  • A court eventually determined Madison's relatives to be the rightful owners, and unbeknownst to Rozzelle, they sold the house on the courthouse steps for a little more than $13,000. "I would describe this situation as someone has taken total advantage of this mother," said Spencer Lamar Booker. "There's complex problems here of paperwork miscommunications. The legal administrator is not contacting her properly. She has something that was put up on her doorstep that says landlord tenant. She clearly has the warranty deed to this house."

  • The new owner, Realty AQ, offered to sell the home to Rozzelle for $60,000. Rozzelle refused, still believing she is the rightful owner. Now she doesn't know where she'll live. The Bethel AME Church is collecting Rozzelle's belongings and will put her up until she can find someplace else to live. She has vowed to fight on, saying she does have a warranty deed showing she's the legal owner of the house.

Source: Property Deed Mix Up Evicts Elderly Woman from Home of 10 Years.

"Zombie Debt" Buyers Cancel $9.5M+ In Consumer Debt In Settlements With WV AG; Lawyer Accused Of Threatening Suits To Collect Time-Barred Obligations

From two press releases from the Office of the West Virginia Attorney General:

  • West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw [last week] announced settlement agreements with three unlicensed collection agencies that will result in $1,277,648.33 in cancelled debts for 161 West Virginia consumers and $15,337.50 in cash refunds.

  • The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division had opened an investigation against the companies – Trailhead Capital, LLC, a debt buyer based in Chicago, IL; Hollis Cobb Assoc., Inc., Trailhead’s affiliated collection agency in Norcross, GA; and Troy Capital, LLC, a debt buyer based in Las Vegas, NV – after receiving complaints that revealed the three businesses were collecting debts in West Virginia without a license and surety bond as required by state law. Records also showed that the debts the companies were attempting to collect were primarily charged-off credit card accounts originally owed to Chase, Wells Fargo Bank, and GE Capital.

  • In West Virginia, businesses that purchase defaulted debts for collection, as Trailhead and Troy Capital did, cannot avoid being licensed and bonded by hiring other agencies to assist them in collecting the debts.(1)

For more, see Attorney General McGraw Recovers $1.25 Million From Three Unlicensed Collection Agencies.


  • West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw [] announced a settlement with Laurence A. Hecker, a New Jersey lawyer, and several out-of-state debt collection agencies that Hecker represents known as the APM Companies resulting in more than $7.9 million dollars in cancelled debts for West Virginians.(2)


  • McGraw’s office began investigating Hecker and the APM Companies in 2006 after receiving complaints from West Virginia consumers who reported they were threatened with lawsuits and excessively pressured to pay alleged debts. To further embellish the lawsuit threat, Hecker sent letters to consumers on his law office stationery to demand payment of the debts. The Attorney General’s investigation revealed that the majority of the collection attempts were for "time-barred" debts, i.e., debts so old that the statute of limitations to sue had expired and lawsuits were therefore barred by law.

For more, see Attorney General McGraw Recovers $7.9 Million for West Virginians from NJ Lawyer Hecker and APM Collection Agencies.

(1) The West Virginia AG observed: "Debt buyers often take overly aggressive collection actions that include the filing of lawsuits – even when they have little proof of the debts they seek to collect from consumers."

(2) McGraw’s Consumer Protection Division entered into an agreement with Hecker and his two affiliated Pennsylvania collection agencies, APM Financial Solutions, LLC, and Account Portfolio Management, LLC. The settlement requires the cancellation of $7.9 million dollars in charged-off credit card debt that Hecker and the APM Companies attempted to collect from 1,922 West Virginia consumers. The companies also paid $45,000 toward customer refunds and consumer education and agreed to delete the debts from credit records.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Aggressive Lobbying Campaign Targeting Congress For Passage Of "Great MERS Whitewash Bill" In Full Swing

The Washington Post reports:

  • The financial services industry has launched an aggressive campaign on Capitol Hill to bolster the legality of the way companies have turned mortgages into securities and traded them across the globe in recent years.

  • The companies have opened wide their wallets for lobbying and are flying top executives to Washington for one-on-one meetings with lawmakers. They are holding briefings for key staffers, including an event last week that drew more than 60 aides. And they are blanketing Congress with white papers, memos and other documents that lay out their arguments.

  • The focal point of their efforts is Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, or MERS, the controversial, privately run electronic database that is used by practically every lending institution and investment company to track the transfer of the ownership of mortgages as they are packaged into securities and traded at lightning speed around the globe.


  • The industry is seeking legislation that would effectively affirm MERS's legality and block any bill that would call into question what MERS does. MERS has spent more than $1 million in lobbying since fall 2008, when lower courts around the country began to rule against it. But MERS had kept its name under the radar until the recent uproar over foreclosures revealed broad problems in mortgage paperwork.

  • If successful on Capitol Hill, the industry could in one quick swoop make all lawsuits related to MERS across the country moot and remove one of the key uncertainties dangling over the mortgage industry. On the flip side, lawmakers could create a new federal registry, effectively killing MERS's business and forcing the industry to submit to greater oversight.


  • Some of the [consumer] advocates are referring to the idea as the "great MERS whitewash bill."

For more, see Aggressive lobbying defends mortgage-trading system.

Thanks to Bill Collins of Frontier Abstract, Rochester, NY for the heads-up on this story.

Clueless Robosigner Backpeddles From Statements Made In Videotaped Deposition; Now Claims To Have Known Significance Of Documents He Cranked Out

In Central Florida, a recent ABC Action News story on foreclosure document mill Nationwide Title Clearing had this excerpt regarding company employee Bryan Bly, a prolific robosigner who distinguished himself recently in a videotaped deposition in which he admitted that he didn't have a clue as to the significance of the paperwork he was cranking out:

  • In a videotaped deposition earlier this month, one of the company's processors Brian Bly, was asked, "What is an assignment of mortgage?” His response? “I have no idea."

  • Despite not even knowing what an assignment of mortgage actually is, he signs thousands of them a day. "I would say 5,000," Bly testified.

  • Bly isn't charged with anything. In a statement to ABC Action News, Bly says he wants to correct his testimony saying, "I know exactly what the purpose and types of documents are that I have signed."

For the story, see INVESTIGATION: Questions mount about documents used in foreclosures.

Go here for Nationwide Title Clearing's statement to the media on the distribution of the videotaped depositions on the Internet.

RICO Suits May Pose Big Problem For Banks In Robosigner Scandal As Class Actions Begin To Pile Up

Bloomberg News reports:

  • Foreclosure-fraud class action lawsuits are starting to pile up against major banks across the U.S., threatening a besieged industry with billions more in potential losses.


  • The class actions, which could be expanded nationally, seek damages for homeowners whose properties were illegally foreclosed upon by banks using fraudulent documents. Suits have been filed in Maryland, New Jersey and Massachusetts that target Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., HSBC PLC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. In Florida and Maine, Ally Financial, formerly known as GMAC Mortgage, is also being targeted.

  • Perhaps an even bigger threat are the lawsuits that contend the banks' foreclosure machinery amounted to a racketeering enterprise. One such case, an Indiana lawsuit against Bank of America, was filed under civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations or RICO laws, which allow damages to be tripled.(1)

For more, see Foreclosure class actions pile up against banks.

(1) For the Indiana RICO suit, see Davis v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., et al.

See also:

Disbarred Attorney Cops Plea To Ripping Off Clients, Lenders; $128K Score In Owner Finance Scam Among Swindles

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Greenbelt, Maryland):

  • Frank P. Jenkins II, age 45, of LaPlata, Maryland, pleaded guilty [last week] to wire fraud and mail fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud clients of his law practice and lenders in real estate transactions.


  • Jenkins admitted that from about 2006 through 2009, he caused clients to transfer money into bank accounts that he controlled, then embezzled the funds for his own purposes, rather than fulfilling his fiduciary obligations to his clients. [...] According to the plea agreement, Jenkins also made false statements to his clients as to his handling of estates and civil litigation and to lenders. Jenkins also provided his clients with fraudulent documents, including deeds and deeds of trust relating to property. Jenkins admitted that he forged the signatures of his clients, including on a consent decree requiring the clients to pay $150,000 to settle a breach of contract suit.

  • In June 2009, Jenkins applied for a loan to refinance a property that he fraudulently told the lender he had purchased. In fact, Jenkins had entered into a contract to purchase the property, misrepresenting to the owners of the property that he would file a deed of trust and promissory note. Jenkins did record the deed showing he had purchased the property, but did not record the deed of trust.

  • Jenkins received a check for $128,654.19 from the lender based on the fraudulent loan application. The deed Jenkins filed was subsequently rescinded and restored to the original owners, who were also awarded $150,000 each in compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees, by the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County.

For the entire U.S. Attorney press release, see Former Charles County Attorney Pleads Guilty To Defrauding Clients And Lenders (Losses Totaled Between $1 Million and $2.5 Million).

(1) The Client Protection Fund of the Bar of Maryland was created to help reimburse clients for money they may have lost because of misappropriation or embezzle­ment by their attorneys.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:

Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

Fed Proposal Will Pull Rug Out From Under Homeowners Enforcing "Truth In Lending" Rights When Fighting Illegal Loans: Consumer Advocates

From a press release from the National Consumer Law Center:

  • Hundreds of consumer, civil rights, legal services, community and labor groups and private and public interest attorneys representing homeowners, along with the coalition Americans for Financial Reform, urged the Federal Reserve Board to withdraw a proposed rule that would destroy a key legal tool to unwind illegal loans and avoid foreclosure.

  • "We are astonished that, with the nation facing its greatest foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, the Board's proposal would eliminate the single most powerful legal tool that homeowners currently have to stop wrongful foreclosures, the federal right to rescind an illegal loan," said Margot Saunders, Counsel to the National Consumer Law Center.

  • "The proposed rule not only weakens protections against predatory lending and foreclosures, but it would give lenders more freedom to provide inaccurate information about the cost of their loans," said Michael Calhoun, President of the Center for Responsible Lending.

For more, see Fed Proposal Would Eviscerate Homeowners' Most Powerful Remedy to Stop Foreclosures of Illegal Loans (Hundreds of consumer, civil rights groups, homeowner attorneys sign letter demanding withdrawal of proposed rule).

Go here for the letter from hundreds of consumer advocates, attorneys, etc. sent to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Foreclosure Mill Does The "Affidavit Two-Step" In Central Florida; Begins To Flood Court With Letters Requesting Judges To OK "Document Do-Overs"

In Central Florida, the St. Petersburg Times reports:

  • Judges in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court say they've never seen anything like the letters they've been receiving over the past few weeks from the South Florida foreclosure law firm of David J. Stern.
  • Referring to Florida Bar rules that say lawyers have a duty to disclose false evidence presented to the court, the letter said that unbeknownst to Stern's attorneys, previously submitted affidavits in foreclosure cases "may not have been properly verified" by the lender. But no worries: Substitute documents, this time "verified," would be forthcoming.
  • This highly unusual move — call it the affidavit two-step — is hitting foreclosure courts around the country as lenders try to regroup from revelations that employees never read or properly notarized critical loan documents that were processed at mind-boggling speed.
  • The legal system is trying to figure out how to respond to lenders' requests for do-overs while foreclosure cases continue to clog the courts. In Maine, a judge ruled that GMAC's submission of a [robosigning Jeffrey] Stephan affidavit amounted to "bad faith" and ordered the lender to pay the homeowner's attorney fees and costs.
  • McGrady, the chief judge, said the timing of when substitute affidavits are filed could determine their impact. "If the affidavits differ and there's a contradiction in facts, that could prevent a summary judgment and then it would have to go to trial or it could be dismissed," McGrady said. "But if the case has already gone to summary judgment or sale, there could be a motion to vacate the judgment, then a hearing and we'll start all over again. There will be a problem where the house has already been purchased by a third party."(1)
For more, see Robosigning in Florida foreclosure cases leads to requests for affidavit 'do-overs' in local courts.
(1) If the bogus affidavits are found to be absolutely void (as opposed to merely voidable), the foreclosure judgments based on the void affidavits could arguably be found to be absolutely void as well. In this case, any innocent third party would be out of luck regarding the ownership of their home (even if they had no knowledge of the facts surrounding the dubious documents), and would have to rely on their title insurance policies to obtain indemnification for their losses.
Alternatively, if the bogus affidavits are found to be merely voidable, the foreclosure judgments would probably found to be voidable as well, in which case, a third party purchaser's ownership claim to the home will withstand an attack, if and only if, said purchaser qualifies for protection as a bona fide purchaser.
The distinction between void and voidable judgments in Florida was described by a state appeals court deciding a mortgage foreclosure case in Sterling Factors Corp. v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 968 So. 2d 658 (Fla. App. 2d 2007):
  • There is distinction between a judgment that is "void" and one that is "voidable." See generally Malone v. Meres, 91 Fla. 709, 109 So. 677 (Fla. 1926).

    A void judgment is so defective that it is deemed never to have had legal force and effect.

    In contrast, a voidable judgment is a judgment that has been entered based upon some error in procedure that allows a party to have the judgment vacated, but the judgment has legal force and effect unless and until it is vacated. Id.; see also State v. Chillingworth, 126 Fla. 645, 171 So. 649, 652 (Fla. 1936); Chisholm v. Chisholm, 98 Fla. 1196, 125 So. 694 (Fla. 1929); Paleias v. Wang, 632 So. 2d 1132 (Fla. 4th DCA 1994) (Klein, J., concurring).

    voidable judgment can be challenged by motion for rehearing or appeal and may be subject to collateral attack under specific circumstances, but it cannot be challenged at any time as void under rule 1.540(b)(4).A trial court's lack of subject-matter jurisdiction makes its judgment void. N.W.T. v. L.H.D. (In re D.N.H.W.), 955 So. 2d 1236, 1238 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007). So, too, a judgment that is entered against a defendant when the court has no personal jurisdiction over the defendant is generally regarded as a void judgment. Great Am. Ins. Co. v. Bevis, 652 So. 2d 382, 383 (Fla. 2d DCA 1995).
For a survey of court rulings from across the U.S. on void judgments, see:

Florida Bar Puts Out Call To Judges Around State To Blow The Whistle On Rule-Breaking Foreclosure Mill Attorneys

The Florida Times Union reports:

  • Out of the more than 200 lawyers the Bar suspended or stripped of licenses this year, none was punished for lying in a foreclosure trial or making fake documents for one, behavior that a cottage industry of critics works to document. But that could change quickly.

  • This month, the Bar was investigating 43 reports of some type of foreclosure fraud involving 32 lawyers. One involves a Jacksonville judge’s ruling this year that lawyers from a South Florida firm committed “fraud on the court.” A new category solely for foreclosure fraud was added recently to the Bar’s system for tracking complaints.

  • To find new cases, the head of the Bar is asking judges around the state to report lawyers who break the rules — and pointing specifically to news coverage of claims about foreclosure suits.

For more, see Foreclosure firms facing action from the Florida Bar (Lenders’ lawyers have already been taking some knocks in court).

The Bleeding Continues For South Florida Assembly Line Foreclosure Mill King

Mother Jones reports:

For more, see Wells Fargo Dumps Foreclosure King.

(1) For other Mother Jones reporting on the now near-defunct Law Office of David J. Stern, see:

Florida Chief Justice To State Trial Judges: 'Open Up Doors To Foreclosure Proceedings'

The Palm Beach Post reports:

  • [Florida Supreme Court] Chief Justice Charles Canady ordered judges throughout the state to open up foreclosure proceedings, responding to requests from civil rights lawyers, the media and First Amendment advocates. Florida law already requires that the foreclosure cases be open, but judges and court officials have barred the public from attending them in part because the onslaught of foreclosures has forced some judges to hear the cases in their chambers.

For more, see Chief Justice orders judges to open foreclosure proceedings.

Go here for Florida Chief Justice Canady's letter to trial judges throughout the state.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spooked Home Loan Industry Looks To Dodge Criminal Responsibility For Robosigner Mess Through Settlement Talks With State AGs

The Washington Post reports:

  • State attorneys general and the country's biggest lenders are negotiating to create a nationwide fund to compensate borrowers who can prove they lost their home in an improper foreclosure, state and industry officials said. The fund would present a solution for both sides, helping banks avoid lengthy and costly court challenges from homeowners and aiding state investigators in their efforts to seek relief for homeowners who were wronged, the officials said.


  • The fund, the first of its kind in the mortgage industry, would mirror victim-compensation efforts set up in recent years in response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the shootings at Virginia Tech and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Those were all administered by a specially appointed czar, Kenneth Feinberg, who had the tough task of figuring out what each victim should receive.(1)

For more, see States, mortgage lenders in talks over fund for borrowers in foreclosure mess.

(1) At this point, it may be that homeowners and their attorneys could be better off continuing to bring their cases in court without regard to any attempt by the state attorneys general to intervene on their behalf and reach a monetary "settlement." The lenders should probably be told to take their proposed settlement fund and shove it. This entire problem could have been avoided a couple of years ago had the lenders dealt with this problem in good faith. Their new-found "willingness" to negotiate (and stop their profuse 'bleeding') is just an attempt to wiggle their way off the hook in a matter that, to the extent the government intervenes, it should probably do so in criminal, not civil, court proceedings.

Atlanta's Largest Foreclosure Mill, Document Processor Among Those Targeted In Federal Robosigner Suit Seeking Class Action Status

In Atlanta, Georgia, WSB-TV Channel 2 reports:

  • A Channel 2 consumer investigation is now the basis for a federal class action lawsuit. Distressed homeowners accuse Atlanta’s largest foreclosure law firm, and its document processor, of fraud and racketeering. Fraud is among the allegations in the lawsuit filed against Prommis Solutions and several employees, foreclosure firm McCalla Raymer and two of its attorneys, and several client lenders.(1)

  • This is wrong; it's fraud,” said homeowner Jeff Crawford, whose wife is named as a plaintiff. Foreclosure of Crawford’s Marietta home is central to the case. “You hear about all this mess going on with foreclosures across the country. This is robo-signing, pure and simple,” he told Channel 2’s Jim Strickland.

  • The lawsuit accuses Prommis Solutions and McCalla Raymer of churning out improperly executed foreclosure documents. A Channel 2 investigation revealed attorney Troy Crouse’s signature on Crawford’s document doesn't match the attorney's own mortgage signature. Channel 2 also uncovered the notary wasn't a notary at the date of signing on the document.

  • Attorney Ebony Ameen said the different signatures occured over and over again. “When you make one mistake that's one thing, but when you make thousands of mistakes, that rises to conduct that's unacceptable,” Ameen said.

  • Ameen is using a Facebook page called Georgia Mortgage Class Action to find other Georgians whose homes were foreclosed who believe their documents are dubious. Prommis said outside auditors are reviewing its procedures. The company told Strickland it has new strict guidelines for notaries, and even a hot line to report irregularities. “Now they may be doing it the correct way. That doesn't cancel out the thousands of times they did it the wrong way,” said Ameen.

Source: Class Action Suit Filed After Channel 2 Document Investigation.

Go here for the WSB-TV Channel 2 video report.

For the lawsuit, see Jenkins, et ano. v. McCalla Raymer LLC, et al.

(1) The defendants named in the lawsuit:

  • McCalla Raymer, LLC,
  • Thomas A. Sears, Esq.,
  • Charles Troy Crouse, Esq.,
  • Merscorp, Inc.,
  • Bank of America, N.A.,
  • BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP,
  • Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.,
  • Prommis Solutions, LLC,
  • Prommis Solutions Holding, Inc,
  • Great Hill Partners, Inc,
  • Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc,
  • Americas Servicing Company,
  • Taylor Bean & Whitaker,
  • Crystal Wilder,
  • Elizabeth Lofaro,
  • Chiquita Raglin,
  • Victoria Marie Allen,
  • Iris Gisella Bey,
  • Jamela Reynolds, and
  • Latasha Daniel.

BofA Seeks To Dodge State Court Adjudication In Ohio Robosigner Suit; Requests Removal To Federal Court

In Sandusky, Ohio, The Morning Journal reports:

  • A lawsuit brought by a Sandusky woman, who lost her home to foreclosure and is suing the bank, claiming the paper work was done improperly, could be moved to federal court. Rhonda McLaughlin filed the lawsuit against the Bank of America claiming a “robosigner” signed an affidavit during the foreclosure process, thus violating the law.

  • Bank of America wants the case moved to federal court because McLaughlin and her attorney, Daniel McGookey, are claiming the bank violated the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, Ohio’s RICO Act and Ohio common law, which are all federal offenses. Bank of America also states because the judgment of the suit is more than $75,000, the action should be shifted to federal court. McGookey said [] he believed the case should remain in Erie County Common Pleas Court.(1)

For the story, see Robosigner suit should be moved, bank says.

For the lawsuit, as filed in Erie County Common Pleas Court, see McLaughlin v. Bank of America, et al.

(1) An ABA Journal article (see Judge Says Firm Must Explain ‘Fraudulent’ Removals or Pony Up $25K) offers this observation on the legal maneuver reported in this story, one commonly used in civil cases by big-time corporate defendants and their white-shoe law firms in lawsuits brought by individuals and other (possibly under-financed) plaintiffs, of moving a case from a state to a federal court:

  • [I]t is widely believed that plaintiffs, particularly individuals rather than corporations, fare better in state courts where they have greater likelihood of getting to a jury and often benefit from more favorable interpretations of law. Defendants in turn tend to prefer the federal courts. Thus removals can become a cat-and-mouse game in which a plaintiff names a party having nothing to do with the matter as one of the defendants to prevent the other side from removing the matter to federal court. That court can find fraudulent joinder and keep the case or remand it.

  • But studies have shown a greater increase in recent years of defendants removing cases to federal court, only for them to be dispatched back to state court for erroneous removal. One researcher, a third-year student at New York University School of Law, found that most often in such situations, the plaintiffs are individuals. And the rate of their cases being remanded back to state court is higher, too, wrote Christopher Terranova in last summer’s edition of the Willamette Law Review (PDF).

  • He adds that “the delays and costs of that extra procedural step to federal court are more costly and burdensome for most individual plaintiffs than they are for bigger defendants with more assets."

For the above-referenced Willamette Law Review article, see Erroneous Removal As A Tool For Silent Tort Reform: An Empirical Analysis Of Fee Awards And Fraudulent Joinder (article also available at

For an example of one Federal judge excoriating a lawyer and law firm for, according to the judge, their history of fraudulent removal requests of cases from state court to Federal court, see Hollier v. Willstaff Worldwide, Case 6:08-cv-01382-TLM-CMH (W.D. La. 2009):

  • Sadly, the Court is not surprised by G.W. Premier’s counsels’ tactics in this proceeding as Ungarino & Eckert, L.L.C.’s reputation proceeds it. This case is but one in a long line of fraudulent and improper removals that Ungarino & Eckert, and more specifically Matthew Ungarino, have filed in this and other districts. [...] [For more, see Hollier v. Willstaff Worldwide (pp. 4-9).]

End Drawing Near For S. Fla. Foreclosure Mill? Stiffs Landlord On Office Rent; Affiliate Enters Into Loan Forbearance Over $12M Credit Line Default

In Plantation, Florida, The Miami Herald reports:

  • The Law Offices of David J. Stern, which has helped banks seize thousands of homes from homeowners who missed mortgage payments, is now having trouble paying its own bills. One of its subsidiaries is seeking bank forbearance for defaulting loans, and the shrinking company has fallen behind on rent payments at its Plantation offices, according to a regulatory filing Monday.


  • The law firm has already stopped paying some of its bills. The company also has not paid its rent for the month of November at its office space at 900 S. Pine Island Road, in Plantation. [...] Much like the troubled real estate market, Stern's firm has been enduring a post-boom decline of its own recently. After the growing five-fold in the last five years to more than 1,100 employees, a lightning round of negative news has leveled the foreclosure-processing giant in the last few months.


  • The same day layoffs were announced, employees from a document shredding company spent hours taking boxes from the firm to a truck parked outside. The DJSP stock price fell 32 percent on Monday to close at $0.48. It has plunged more than 95 percent since April, when it peaked at $13.65. In a letter announcing the layoffs to Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, a Stern representative wrote that a complete closing of the firm "remains a possibility.''

For more, see Foreclosure attorney Stern struggling to pay his bills.

'Lender' Targets Cash-Strapped, High-Equity Homeowners For Easy Profits; Tactics Embarrassing, Undermine Industry Reputation, Says Hard Money Lender

In Seattle, Washington, The Seattle Times reports:

  • Emiel Kandi forever changed the lives of a pregnant hairdresser, a jobless mechanic and a single mom when he loaned them money. These unsophisticated, desperate borrowers thought a short-term loan from the well-dressed professional could save them from financial collapse or foreclosure. But the very asset they were trying to hold on to — their home — was what Kandi was determined to take.

  • Kandi is the lender of last resort for some people who've been turned down by banks because of poor credit or limited income. He says his requirement for a borrower is merely "a pulse and a legal ability to sign." He admits he charges borrowers as much as he can get away with — 45 percent interest in one case — and makes it clear to them that if they fail to comply with the loan agreements, he will take their property. "I am a wolf," he explained.

  • A Seattle Times examination of numerous Kandi loan deals shows that they are set up so he can quickly take borrowers' homes and in some cases flip them for a profit. And he gets away with it. "He's in the business of taking people's property," said Martin Burns, a lawyer who sued Kandi on behalf of the mechanic. "He finds vulnerable people and exploits them."(1)


  • Established hard-money lenders, some of whom handle multimillion-dollar loans, say people like Kandi undermine the reputation of their industry. "They are trying to fly under the radar with these tactics that are embarrassing," said John Odegard, president of Seattle Funding Group, the Northwest's largest private lending company. "It isn't at all what our industry represents." Erik Egger, co-president of WADOT Capital, one of at least two dozen hard-money lenders that offer loans in the state, said no reputable lender would use a quitclaim deed to secure a loan. "It circumvents foreclosure," he said. "Those borrowers can be put in a bad situation."(2)

For more, including the stories of a couple of the victims, see Lender seizes desperate borrowers' homes (A Seattle Times examination of numerous Emiel Kandi loan deals shows that they are set up so he can quickly take borrowers' homes and in some cases flip them for a profit. And he gets away with it).

(1) Reportedly, one of Kandi's common practices is to have his victims sign over their title to the property using a quitclaim deed, writing the loan as a purported 'commercial' (as opposed to a 'consumer') loan in attempt to dodge certain consumer protections, and employing 'hair-trigger' default clauses in the loan agreement that allow him to take possession of the house immediately using the deed after a missed payment without going through foreclosure, which includes a 190-day waiting period and several consumer protections, the story states.

In one case, Kandi reportedly had a homeowner sign a promissory note for $170,000, even though he was getting only $17,000, and a quit claim deed to the home. Six days after a purported default (a point that was disputed by the parties), Kandi used the quitclaim deed to record a new owner of the property, a company in his mother's name, and subsequently flipped it for $235,000, walking away with more than $200,000.

After a lawsuit was filed by the homeowner, a court determined Kandi had violated the Washington State Consumer Protection Act by using "unfair and deceptive practices" and ordered Kandi to pay the homeowner $211,538, an amount Kandi has yet to pay, the story states. See Marsh v. Kandi, et al, NO. 9-2-11247-4 (Wn. Sup. Ct. Pierce County, October 20, 2010).

In another lawsuit (see Provost v. Kandi, et al., NO. 09-2-15191-6 SEA, May 30, 2010), Kandi was found to have violated the Washington Criminal Profiteering Act (RCW 9A.82), The Credit Services Act (RCW 19.134) the Distressed Property Act (RCW 61.34), and the Usury Act (RCW 19.52). In addition to $110,000+ in net damages, the victim was awarded her home back free and clear as a result of a successful action to quiet title.

Other homeowners who borrowed from Kandi have had different outcomes. A single mother of two children took out a loan for $5,000, missed a payment, and lost her Graham home and $70,000 in equity. In another case, a Puyallup woman who borrowed from Kandi filed a lawsuit against him, but lost.

For whatever its worth, in addition to other legal theories that are available to unwind or undo these type of home equity ripoffs, the judiciary in the State of Washington has a long history dating back over a century of recognizing the equitable mortgage doctrine, which when applicable, disregards the signing over of a deed in a racket like this and treats the entire deal as a loan secured by a mortgage. See Equitable Mortgage Doctrine In Washington State.

(2) A similar type of home equity ripoff was successfully prosecuted last year in a civil lawsuit alleging violations of the state Consumer Protection Act brought by the Washington State Attorney General's Office. See Washington AG Scores Big Win In Bogus Equity Stripping, Land Trust/Sale Leasebacks & Surplus Ripoffs; Foreclosure Rescue Operator Tagged For $4.2M (for the lawsuit setting forth the allegations, see State of Washington v. Kaiser, et al.).

For more on combatting home equity scams in court, see Foreclosure Rescue Scams, as well as this summary of legal theories available in undoing or unwinding these types of home equity scams (the latter made available online by the Washington State Attorney General's Office).

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Florida Media Outfits, ACLU Call On State High Court To Leave Foreclosure Proceedings Open To Public

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports:

  • A group of Florida news organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union Monday called on Florida’s Supreme Court to preserve open access to foreclosure proceedings.

  • In a letter to Chief Justice Charles T. Canady, the group cites “numerous reports” of barriers to access for the news media and the general public that have taken place since August in Duval, Hillsborough, Orange and Citrus Counties. The letter is signed by representatives of the ACLU, The First Amendment Foundation, Florida Association of Broadcasters, Florida Press Association, The Florida Society of Newspaper Editors and James Denton, editor of The Florida Times-Union, a newspaper based in Jacksonville.

  • The letter also referred to an incident in Jacksonville in which a legal aid attorney was told she might be cited for contempt of court in the future after the attorney attended a foreclosure proceeding with a reporter from Rolling Stone magazine.(1)

For more, see ACLU wants courts to keep foreclosure cases open to public.

(1) See Rubber-Stamping Judge Threatens Foreclosure Defense Legal Aid Lawyer With Contempt For Bringing Media Member To Observe Rocket Docket.

NY F'closures Screech To A Halt? Lender Lawyers Reluctant To Risk Bar Ticket By Filing Crappy Paperwork In Violation Of State High Court Directive

The New York Post reports:

  • Bank lawyers prosecuting the 80,000 foreclosure cases in New York are all but admitting that the cases they have filed over the past number of years have been riddled with fraud.

  • In the three weeks-plus since New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman put the foreclosure lawyers on notice that any fraud in foreclosure paperwork would be met with severe penalties -- he is making lawyers sign affirmations promising they took "reasonable" steps to make sure the legal papers are true -- practically no new foreclosure cases have been filed, The Post has learned. And existing cases have ground to a halt, a source close to the state's foreclosure practice said.

  • "Banks do not want to be the first to test the new rules," the source said. The virtual shutdown of New York's foreclosure business comes despite chest-thumping, bravado-filled statements made by some banks in October that they had nothing to be afraid of when it came to foreclosure fraud and that the lawsuits aimed at kicking delinquent homeowners from their houses would continue shortly.

  • It seems lawyers pressing the foreclosure cases are not willing to bet their law licenses on such claims. [...] While many banks are not prosecuting foreclosures, they are still preparing those cases by sending paperwork to law firms on new homeowners who are behind on payments. The cases are just not being filed in court. "The spigot has not been shut off much, to my surprise," a foreclosure industry insider told The Post, of the bank's sending of the foreclosure paperwork to their lawyers.

For more, see Fraud-closure biz fizzles out.

Cops Pinch Recently Disbarred Attorney; Suspect Accused Of Forging Court Documents While Peddling Foreclosure Defense Services

In Miami, Florida, The Miami Herald reports:

  • A Coral Springs lawyer forged the signatures of two Miami-Dade judges while lying to a client about a bogus lawsuit settlement, authorities said Wednesday. The lawyer, Frank J. Ingrassia, who was working with a disgraced foreclosure rescue company called Outreach Housing, was arrested last week in Broward County and charged with three felonies involving the forgery of court documents.

  • Ingrassia, who was disbarred last month for the misconduct, drew headlines in 2008 after he began preemptively suing banks for providing allegedly fraudulent mortgages. Aventura businessman William Klein hired Ingrassia to sue his bank after reading a Miami Herald article about the attorney's efforts.

  • According to an arrest affidavit released Wednesday, Ingrassia presented Klein with paperwork showing a $1 million settlement signed by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maxine Cohen Lando, and a foreclosure dismissal order signed by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ronald Dresnick.

  • But neither judge had signed any such legal documents, and they were never filed in court, according to an arrest affidavit by Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agent Michelle Bufalino.

For more, see Lawyer accused of forging foreclosure documents (A Coral Springs lawyer is facing three felony charges relating to the alleged forgery of court documents in a foreclosure case).

DC Now Requires Six-Month Mediation Period Before Proceeding With Foreclosure

In Washington, D.C. (a non-judicial foreclosure sale jurisdiction), The Washington Post reports:

  • [Last] week, the D.C. Council approved a measure requiring lenders to go through six months of mediation with a homeowner before proceeding with a foreclosure. Mediation allows the borrower and the lender's representative to negotiate, with the guidance of an impartial go-between, over possible alternatives to a foreclosure, such as a loan modification. But neither side can be compelled to agree to a mediated solution.

  • Peter Tatian, research associate with the Urban Institute, a social policy think tank, said mediation can be useful in a place such as the District, which does not require courts to review foreclosure cases.


  • The new D.C. program was proposed by Ward 4 council member Muriel Bowser and will be managed by the District's Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. The department offers a printed "Foreclosure Mitigation Kit," which can be downloaded from

For the story, see Mediation now required for District foreclosures.

For related information from the District's Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, see DISB to Deal with Irregularities in Foreclosures.

Thanks to Donald Marritz of the nonprofit law firm Regional Housing Legal Services for the heads-up on the story.