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New Law Helps Homeowners: Part II

foreclosure defense attorneysStanding to Sue

There is a key concept in New York law concerning standing to sue. If Bank 1 gives a loan to a homeowner and Bank 1 transfers or surrenders the mortgage to Bank 2, the homeowner is entitled to notice of the transfer. In addition, appropriate documents called an Assignment of Mortgage must be filed with the County Clerk’s office in the County in which the real estate is maintained. This applies to each and every subsequent transfer of the mortgage from one financial institution to another.

The failure to properly file all necessary documents or notify the homeowner disallows the financial institution at the end of the line from having standing to bring the lawsuit. In these cases, if the homeowner hires a foreclosure defense lawyer knowledgeable about these details, an affirmative defense of lack of standing can be placed in the answer to plaintiff’s complaint. This defense can be the basis for the dismissal of the lawsuit. My law firm has had numerous lawsuits dismissed because of lack of standing issues in the many foreclosure cases we have handled.

One of the additional purposes of this legislation is to clarify issues concerning who is entitled to sue a homeowner and how cases should proceed in a more orderly and logical manner, starting with the Foreclosure Court Conferences and thereafter with litigation.

Certificate of Merit

One of the purposes of this new statute is to eliminate the filing of misleading or fraudulent documents in foreclosure proceedings that has commonly been referred to as “robo-signing.” Chief Justice Jonathan Lipman of the New York State Court of Appeals, stated “the bill is crucial to ensuring the integrity and transparency of the foreclosure process especially for those New Yorkers impacted by the recent economic crisis.”

Certificate of Merit must be filed at the same time the foreclosure proceeding is initially commenced. The Certificate of Merit requires the attorney to attach to the Certificate any relevant documents concerning modifications, extensions, consolidations and assignments affecting the instrument and/or this indebtedness.

Missing Documents

In cases where the documents are missing or lost the statute allows the attorney or the representative of the plaintiff’s financial institution to file an appropriate affidavit which attests to all of the facts and veracity of those documents which are missing.

The Certificate of Merit specifically pertains to foreclosure lawsuits brought against owner occupied residences. This replaces the affidavits attorneys had been required to file under court administrative rules since 2010.

Legal Limbo

In the past, lenders have brought foreclosure lawsuits without the proper documentation that they were entitled to bring these lawsuits. This caused cases to be maintained on the court’s dockets for long periods of time tying up the legal system involved with foreclosures.

Christine Keef, a senior staff attorney with the Empire Justice Center, stated with reference to the new law “this is going to prevent homeowners from being stuck in this legal limbo in a time period when fees and costs continue to accrue on a loan, making it harder for the homeowner to afford a modification when one is offered.”

foreclosure advocate for homeownersElliot S. Schlissel is a foreclosure defense lawyer representing homeowners throughout the metropolitan New York area.

Valley Stream, Lynbrook, Baldwin, Malverne, Freeport, Oceanside, Long Beach, Elmont, Lakeview, West Hempstead, Hempstead, Merrick, Bellmore

We represent individuals throughout the New York Metropolitan area with divorce and child custody, personal injury, car accident, wrongful death, estate administration, nursing home and medicaid issues

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