Latest Moratorium Extensions Are Two-Edged Sword

The new president is facing incoming fire from all directions. If he does not extend the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions, hundreds of thousands of people are going to be homeless. But the extension does not come without costs.
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As you have seen on these pages, I am quite confident that none of the scheduled payments from homeowners are legally due. On the other hand, I am loathe to tell homeowners or tenants that they should withhold payments if they can make them.
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The reason is basically extortion or duress. By withholding a scheduled payment without a court order telling you can don’t need to make the payment, you put yourself and your home in jeopardy. the Wall Street foreclosure team will use that as their excuse for pursuing collection and enforcement ending in foreclosure and eviction if you don’t properly defend.
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The situation with tenants is even more dire. Many if not most rental units are owned by small landlords who do not possess the resources to get through this pandemic period. When the time comes that their units are exempted from moratoriums by time or edict, they will be required to pay the “arrearage” just like everyone else. Those homeowners who are using the moratorium as an excuse to withhold payment without having a plan of attack are headed for trouble — possibly the kind they can’t fix.
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The obvious answer to this problem is for homeowners to launch preemptive lawsuits against the securitization team. But my observations and experience show that most judges will not allow such lawsuits to go forward. this is because it is seen as an attack on the financial system generally and because judges are afraid that allowing such lawsuits will invite many more that will clog all the court systems. I have had many judges agree that the lawsuit did state a claim but dismissed it anyway sometimes after as much as 14 months of sitting on the motion to dismiss.
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Some people believe that the judges don’t get it. But most of them do “get it” — at least in part. Since those judges believe the loan exists, the loan account exists and that the homeowners almost certainly owe the payments, they see little harm in waiting until enforcement action is brought against the offending homeowner. Then they will occasionally rule in favor of a homeowner who reveals fatal deficiencies in the proof of the claim.
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It is during the moratorium periods that homeowners have an unprecedented opportunity to start actions against the securitization team — but not entirely the way most might think. By sending a proper Qualified Written Request and Debt Validation Letter you open up a more palatable action for the Judges in advance of enforcement. This is the opening step in the homeowner’s challenge.
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They must answer and they risk some rather harsh sanctions if they lie — so they withhold information. But the information they give in response to the statutory inquiries will most likely contain inconsistencies with their correspondence.
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Your questions need to be very specific. And they should start with existence, ownership, and authority over a loan account receivable on the ledger of some company; that entry can only be legal and valid if value was paid in exchange for a conveyance of ownership of the loan account receivable (aka underlying debt or underlying obligation). This is the most basic requirement established by law and custom over centuries in English common law and statutes, American common law; it is also established as the law in every jurisdiction in their adoption of Article 9 §203 of the Uniform Commercial Code.
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Next, the homeowner can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Board and the Consumer Division of the Attorney General of their State. Once again a response is mandated by statute and the securitization/foreclosure team does no dare withhold a response. but once again their response is going to be filled with legalese evasion of admitting the simple fact that they don’t own the loan account receivable and they have not been given any authority from anyone who does own it.
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Homeowners should not allege nor try to prove that all securitization of residential “debt” is a fraudulent scheme or a lie, even though that is true. It scares judges and it sounds like a conspiracy theory to them. So keep it simple and to the point.
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Foreclosure is about restitution for an unpaid debt. If the claiming party has no actual ownership of the debt arising from a real-world transaction in which they paid value in exchange for owning the loan account receivable they fail the test of the condition precedent set forth in 9-203 of the UCC. And that opens the door to “limited” actions for violations of the FDCPA (title X, 124 Stat. 2092 (2010) and other statutes. Those statutes have a bite to them and the foreclosure mills are afraid of them.
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The advantage of the preemptive action by the homeowner is that very often the securitization/collection/foreclosure team is not ready with fabricated documents containing false information about transactions that never occurred.
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The rule of thumb is to create a vehicle that can be gradually expanded as more information is obtained and the judge is gradually educated as to the true facts of the case. And remember that attorney fees are often recoverable in such actions along with statutory or compensatory damages.
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Once filed and discovery is underway, the best practice is to take information gleaned from discovery and then request a leave of court to amend the pleadings to include a broader action for declaratory, injunctive, and supplemental relief.
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The homeowner would be seeking damages for illegally trying to enforce a debt, and disgorgement of amounts paid to parties who had no nexus to ownership, or authority over the claimed “debt.” While this premise is true in virtually all cases in which securitization claims were in play, it can only be established by revealing the inability or unwillingness of the opposition to answer the most basic questions about existence, ownership, and authority over the debt.
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They can’t but you must do much more than accusing them. You must out litigate them which is why you most likely should have a lawyer who knows how to file motions to dismiss, discovery requests and motions to enforce discovery requests, along with motions for sanctions, motions for the court to adopt a negative inference against the opposition and motions in limine.
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If small landlords take heed, they can force the situation to tilt in their own favor, pass some of the savings to tenants and come out the other end of this crisis somewhat intact. If they don’t then it is unlikely that many of them will survive after the moratorium ceases unless their tenants have been paying rent in a timely fashion.
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Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial and appellate attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
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FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS NOT SIMPLE. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF A FAVORABLE RESULT. THE FORECLOSURE MILLS WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO WEAR YOU DOWN AND UNDERMINE YOUR CONFIDENCE. ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT NO MEANINGFUL SETTLEMENT OCCURS UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR OF LITIGATION.
  • But challenging the “servicers” and other claimants before they seek enforcement can delay action by them for as much as 12 years or more.
  • Yes you DO need a lawyer.
  • If you wish to retain me as a legal consultant please write to me at neilfgarfield@hotmail.com.
Please visit www.lendinglies.com for more information.

You might not know VendorScape but it sure knows you

In a somewhat startling admission by CoreLogic, we now have an admission of many facts that might not have otherwise surfaced but for intensive and aggressive, persistent Discovery. I am not publishing the entire letter from them for privacy reasons. But it is worth mentioning that the letter was sent, after careful legal analysis, as a response to a complaint to the Federal Consumer Financial Protection Board — organized by Elizabeth Warren under the Obama administration. The response was (a) mandatory and (b) subject to charges of lying to a Federal agency.

The problem faced by CoreLogic was that on the one hand it IS and was the central repository of all data and electronic records for most residential loans in the United States. The main IT platform running several systems is called VendorScape which is owned, maintained and operated by CoreLogic pursuant to instructions from Black Knight (and perhaps others) who are serving the interests of investment banks who have no legally recognized interest in any of the alleged “loan accounts”.

But they don’t want the government or the public to know any of that because they are designating nominees to serve or pose as “servicers” who can be thrown under the bus at any that that foul play is actually addressed instead of settled (see 50 state settlement).

So here is what they said

Interesting.

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And here is how it breaks down (legal analysis):
  1. VendorScape exists although they deny it is currently accessed through CoreLogic
  2. VendorScape is an “electronic case management system.” Taken in context with customs and practices in the industry in addition to simple logic, it is THE case management system and it is electronic which means that anyone with login credentials can get into it.
  3. VendorScape output consists of the following:
    1. centralized electronic workplace
    2. storage of “documents” — i.e., images not the original documents because they are not a records custodian for anyone. As the centralized place for “storage” it is VendorScape that is the source server from which all records are produced in printed reports that are merely generated from what is in VendorScape regardless of who added or deleted or changed anything.
    3. initiate workflows “defined by our clients”. This is odd wording.
      1. They appear to be saying that clients access the system and are simply using it as an IT platform to conduct business of the client.
      2. But VendorScape initiates workflows, which means that they have admitted that whoever is actually running VendorScape is making the decisions on when and how to initiate any action.
      3. Since the entire purpose of this system is preparation for foreclosure, the only logical conclusion is that it is a system to initiate foreclosures, notices of default, notice of delinquency etc. based upon human decision-making or automated decision making initiated by humans that control VendorScape.
      4. They will of course say otherwise and that seems to be what they are trying to say — that the client determines the definitions and circumstances of workflows.
      5. But dig a little deeper and you will find that the “client” has no right to make such decisions and that the decision is labelled as the decision of a client (e.g. Ocwen) by permission from Ocwen, who is not actually allowed to make such decisions and does not make such decisions. 
      6. So the reference to the  Client making such decisions is circular allowing anyone to say that it was CoreLogic or  VendorScape who made the decision (thus avoiding liability for Ocwen et al) OR to say that it was Ocwen, as they do in this letter.
  4. They admit that CoreLogic is the party who owns and maintains the storage and functions of the VendorScape system while at the same time implying that they have no connection with VendorScape.
  5. They assert that the data is owned by the clients. This is a common trick.
    1. The data is not owned by the clients because it doesn’t consist of any entries or proprietary information placed in the system by the client.
    2. The information or data is placed there mostly through automated systems controlled by Black Knight but operated by CoreLogic.
    3. Nominal “Servicers” (Ocwen e.g.), who are the “clients” actually have no way of knowing anything about a homeowner account until after it is placed in the system by third parties.
    4. This is why servicer records should not be admitted into evidence as exceptions (business records) to the hearsay rule.
    5. The deadly mistake by many lawyers in court is the failure to timely object to lack of foundation, best evidence and hearsay.
      1. A timely objection is one that is raised at the same time the admission of evidence is being considered by the court.
      2. Waiting until the end of questioning is spitting in the wind. It is already in evidence by that point.
      3. And the second mistake is that after the objection is sustained, the failure to move the court to strike the offending testimony and exhibits. That failure is equivalent to a waiver of the objection, thus leaving the offending testimony or exhibits in evidence.
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Neil F Garfield, MBA, JD, 73, is a Florida licensed trial attorney since 1977. He has received multiple academic and achievement awards in business and law. He is a former investment banker, securities broker, securities analyst, and financial analyst.
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FREE REVIEW: Don’t wait, Act NOW!

CLICK HERE FOR REGISTRATION FORM. It is free, with no obligation and we keep all information private. The information you provide is not used for any purpose except for providing services you order or request from us. In the meanwhile you can order any of the following:
*
CLICK HERE ORDER ADMINISTRATIVE STRATEGY, ANALYSIS AND NARRATIVE. This could be all you need to preserve your objections and defenses to administration, collection or enforcement of your obligation.Suggestions for discovery demands are included.
*
CLICK HERE TO ORDER TERA – not necessary if you order PDR PREMIUM.
*
CLICK HERE TO ORDER CONSULT (not necessary if you order PDR)
*
*
CLICK HERE TO ORDER PRELIMINARY DOCUMENT REVIEW (PDR) (PDR PLUS or BASIC includes 30 minute recorded CONSULT)
*
FORECLOSURE DEFENSE IS NOT SIMPLE. THERE IS NO GUARANTEE OF A FAVORABLE RESULT. THE FORECLOSURE MILLS WILL DO EVERYTHING POSSIBLE TO WEAR YOU DOWN AND UNDERMINE YOUR CONFIDENCE. ALL EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT NO MEANINGFUL SETTLEMENT OCCURS UNTIL THE 11TH HOUR OF LITIGATION.
  • But challenging the “servicers” and other claimants before they seek enforcement can delay action by them for as much as 12 years or more.
  • Yes you DO need a lawyer.
  • If you wish to retain me as a legal consultant please write to me at neilfgarfield@hotmail.com.
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Please visit www.lendinglies.com for more information.

Tolling the Statute of Limitations by Initiating Administrative Processes

A recent case brought to mind a possible argument for tolling the applicable statute of limitations (SOL) on certain claims. By submission of complaints to the CFPB (TILA, RESPA, FDCPA etc) you are starting an administrative process. It might even be true that by submitting a QWR (under RESPA) or DVL (under FDCPA) you are starting an administrative process. One could argue that while you were in that process the statute of limitations on certain claims should be tolled.

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Let us help you plan for trial and draft your foreclosure defense strategy, discovery requests and defense narrative: 202-838-6345. Ask for a Consult or check us out on www.lendinglies.com. Order a PDR BASIC to have us review and comment on your notice of TILA Rescission or similar document. LendingLies provides forms and services regarding initiating administrative processes including Qualified Written request, Debt validation Letter, Complaint to State Attorney General and Complaint to Consumer Financial Protection Board.
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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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The argument would be that you were exhausting your administrative remedies and that therefore the statute of limitations barring your claim should be tolled (extended). The argument against that position is usually that you didn’t need to exhaust your administrative remedies and therefore there should be no tolling of the statute. General doctrine and decisions weigh the balance of the goal of finality of claims and the desire to see all meritorious claims be litigated in pursuit of justice. The courts vary so do your legal research.

Your position is obviously strongest where you MUST exhaust administrative remedies BEFORE filing a claim, as provided by a statute. Your position is weakest where you didn’t need to exhaust administrative remedies. But equitable arguments often prevail.

Remember that if you are successful the statute of limitations will only be tolled during the period that you were pursuing administrative remedies so the filing of complaint with the CFPB and the AG office in your state is probably a good idea if it’s done sooner rather than later. The fact that administrative remedies were available for a time does not seem to advance your position unless you started some procedure invoking administrative action.

And remember that while you can’t bring a claim for remedies under a tort of statutory violation that is barred by the statute of limitations you CAN raise the same issues as an defense under the doctrine of recoupment. Procedurally recoupment only applies if you are sued. State laws and common law vary so again be careful to do your legal research.

If the foreclosure is contested I believe that under the US Constitution, this requires the foreclosure to become judicial — something that every judicial state has in fact made provision for.

As I have insisted for 12 years, the fact that nonjudicial foreclosure is available for uncontested foreclosures should not be an excuse for changing the burden of proof in contested foreclosures.

Hence the proper (constitutional) procedure would be realignment of the parties to where the claimant for foreclosure must judicially claim foreclosure and prove it while the homeowner merely defends with an answer and affirmative defenses and/or counterclaim.

As it stands, courts resist this approach and that gives the claimants in unlawful and wrongful foreclosures the ability to skip proof and go straight to foreclosure. In my opinion that reveals  an unconstitutional application of an otherwise valid statutory scheme for disposing of uncontested foreclosures.

Unlawful detainer or eviction is an attempt to eat fruit from a poisoned tree if in a nonjudicial foreclosure state a contested foreclosure did not require the claimant to assert and prove its claim for foreclosure.

 

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