Our Rancho Cucamonga foreclosure defense attorneys wrote earlier this month about a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision invalidating two foreclosures in which the bank could not prove ownership. So we were interested to see a column from CBS MoneyWatch columnist Jane Bryant Quinn using that case as an example of how homeowners can fight an unfair or outright illegal foreclosure. Homeowners might worry that a lawyer costs too much, Quinn wrote, but there’s often little or no upfront cost thanks to the contingency fee structure used by most consumer attorneys. (This is what HOWARD | NASSIRI uses in litigation as well.) And legal representation can be a powerful tool to call attention to sloppiness and illegal behavior by banks.
The Massachusetts homeowners in the case, Antonio Ibanez and married couple Mark and Tammy LaRace, purchased their homes in 2005 and defaulted in 2007. In between, the mortgages were securitized — bundled into groups and sold as investments. The lenders seeking to foreclose were the trustees for those investments, not the owners of the mortgages, who are the only entities with the right to foreclose. In fact, the lenders reportedly couldn’t find any ownership paperwork, which led the state high court to dismiss the cases. Quinn writes that this shouldn’t be a surprise, because there are and should be high standards when banks seek to take away people’s property. If the court hadn’t required proof of ownership, she wrote, nobody’s home would be safe from incompetent or greedy lenders.
These cases went to court because Massachusetts requires lenders to take their foreclosure requests before a judge. However, as Los Angeles County foreclosure defense lawyers, we’d like to remind Californians that they do not have this type of protection because we’re a non-judicial foreclosure state. That means that if you want an unbiased human being to double-check that a foreclosure is valid, your best bet is to sue the lender. As Quinn writes, this is not necessarily a severe financial burden. Attorneys seeking a financial settlement, as they might in a predatory lending case, are paid when and if they win the case. Those who aren’t claiming lots of money might arrange a fee based on the client’s current means. And if your foreclosure is part of a consumer bankruptcy, as the case involving Ibanez was, the fees can be rolled into your repayment plan.
HOWARD | NASSIRI PC helps borrowers explore all of their legal options for fighting a foreclosure and holding on to their homes. In many of our foreclosure defense cases, we have strong evidence that the lender never seriously considered alternatives like a loan modification. In fact, the article mentions that lawyers in the Massachusetts case admitted that loan servicers are graded on how quickly they finish a foreclosure. In cases like that, our Tustin foreclosure defense attorneys help clients stop a foreclosure right away by suing, then prove in a court of law that they have not been treated competently or fairly. When the client’s other financial circumstances are right, we can also fight a foreclosure through a personal bankruptcy, which freezes all debt collection attempts immediately. And in cases where the bank broke the law, we can seek justice through a predatory lending lawsuit.
If you’ve been trying to arrange a loan modification or straighten out a mistake with your bank for months, but you haven’t gotten anywhere, you should contact HOWARD | NASSIRI for help. To tell us your story and learn more about your rights, send us an email or call toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 today.