Careful what you say in “Hardship Letter”

Modifications are tricky. They are trickier than you think. First of all the offer is made by a company who has no right to act as “servicer” or to change the terms of your contract. By changing the apparent lender or creditor to the named servicer, the agreement is probably tricking you into accepting a virtual creditor in lieu of a real one.

But the most important trick is that what they are really looking for is a direct or tacit acknowledgement of the status and ownership of the debt. So if you say that this “servicer” did something or that “lender” did that, you are admitting that the company who presents itself as servicer is inf act an authorized entity to administer, collection and enforce your loan.

And if you refer to a “Lender” you are directly  or tacitly admitting that a creditor exists and they own the loan and that raises the the almost irrebuttable presumption that the “lender” has suffered financial injury as a direct and proximate result of your “failure” to pay.

Not paying is not a failure to pay, a delinquency or a default if the party demanding payment had no right to do so. So if you admit the default in your “hardship” letter you are putting yourself into the position of defending against compelling arguments that you waived any right to deny the default or the rights of the parties to enforce the debt, note or mortgage.

I recognize that there is the factor of coercion and intimidation in executing a modification (just to stop the threat of foreclosure, regardless of whether it is legal or not). But the question is whether the entire process of modification is a legally recognizable event.

If the offer comes from someone who has no ownership or authority to represent the owner of the underlying obligation then the offer is a legal nullity. But if it is accepted then there is a possibility that the homeowner might be deemed to have waived defenses. Also if the beneficiary of the agreement and the payments made would go to a party who does not own a loan account then the agreement has been procured by misrepresentation or implied misrepresentations.

Proper pursuit of discovery demands will most often result in an offer of settlement and modification that is simply too good to refuse. The reason is that your opposition  has no answers to your question that would not constitute an admission of civil or even criminal liability.

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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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